FORT BENNING, Ga. (May 3, 2018) - Volunteers, both individual and belonging to automobile clubs, brought 95 classic and otherwise unique vehicles April 28 to the main Post Exchange at Fort Benning, Georgia, to highlight the Army's efforts in sexual assault prevention, survivor support, de-stigmatization of reporting and community cooperation.
Members of the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) and Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) programs and others organized the Teal Wheels automobile show as part of April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
Col. Clinton W. Cox, Fort Benning garrison commander, spoke at the beginning of the event. He thanked the participants for bringing their automobiles, and he expressed the need for a positive, healthy climate in terms of the values the Army operates by.
"Our focus this year is on trust, which is absolutely critical to what we do in the Army, and especially in small units and how they operate," said Cox. "But that starts with respect. It starts with respect for one another, treating others as you would want to be treated. And if you don't have that respect, you can't earn trust. And if the trust breaks down, we cannot function as an Army."
Cox said he hoped the participants learned "from the people who put their heart and passion into" their vehicles.
"An especial thanks to our Family Advocacy Program, our SHARP program for keeping us safe, for taking care of victims every single day," Cox said, "and getting the word out about trust and respect, which are absolutely critical values."
Marta Wiecha-Swierczek, sexual assault response coordinator with the USAG Fort Benning SHARP office, helped organize the event. Although the link between automobiles and raising awareness of sexual assault response and prevention may not be immediately apparent, she said the event, now in its second year, was about reaching a different audience.
"Normally to the events you have Families and women," Wiecha-Swierczek said of other SHARP events. "This brings a male population, and it's also a bridge between ages."
Soldiers, Families, civilians who work on post, civilians from off post mingled and admired souped-up automobiles, custom body work, refinished interiors and restored classic automobiles. Members of local car clubs met with other members of local car clubs. At the registration TENT, volunteers offered information on the U.S. Army's SHARP program, and several paintings were on display showcasing the month's theme of sexual assault awareness and prevention.
"Awareness goes for everybody," said Zack Ingram, who brought his automobile to this year's event. "We've got to come out and give them support."
Besides awareness of an important issue, the event was also about the vehicles, and to judges assessed the vehicles. Winners by category included:
- Antique motorcycle: Louis Villermin
- Import motorcycle: Jonathan Grundy
- Domestic motorcycle: Chip Lynn
- Open car: Chris Black
- Classic car: Ervin L. Walker
- Import car: Christopher Osterholm
- Muscle car: Brian Mikashus
- Best 4x4: Ross Schliedhake
- Best truck: Brandi Ziebell
Ervin Walker, whose 1965 Ford Mustang won first place in the classic car category, brought his son, Earron, out to the event.
"The post is really involved in taking care of people," said Walker.
To learn more about the SHARP program at Fort Benning, visit "Fort Benning SHARP" in the "Related Links" section on this page. That page contains further helpful resources, including resource hotlines.
To learn more about the SHARP program in general, visit "U.S. Army SHARP" in the "Related Links" section on this page.
Soldiers can also reach out to their sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates at the brigade level. They can also visit the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning SHARP office in Collins Hall (Bldg. 38) on Miller Loop at main post.