By Spc. Brea DuBoseMay 10, 2018
FORT SILL, Okla., May 10, 2018 -- The 75th Field Artillery Brigade (FAB) held a Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Prevention (SHARP) Summit, April 24, to promote Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
"We highlight SHARP month because we are committed to preventing behaviors that are inconsistent with Army values," said Patrick Lumpkin, a retired sergeant major and the brigade victim advocate. His job is to provide resources and services to victims of sexual assault.
At 9 a.m., an assembly of junior enlisted Soldiers filled Sheridan Theater for the morning block of the summit. It kicked off with several videos meant to educate the audience and inspire a call to action to eliminate sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Although much of the information was a refresher for many audience members, one video was intriguing and uncomfortable for viewers to watch resonated in hearts and minds. It illustrated the ways in which sexual harassment is allowed to infiltrate the workplace when left unchecked.
In the "spoken-word" style video, a nameless Soldier embodied sexual harassment and narrates from the perspective of a perpetrator and how emboldened he feels when no one confronts or stops his harassment. The message is that Soldiers and leaders must be the ones to stop sexual harassment in its tracks so the Army team can accomplish its mission.
Pfc. Kevin Pollard, a paralegal specialist for 3rd Battalion, 13th Field Artillery, attended the brief and said the video was powerful.
"I saw why the SHARP program is needed and the video highlighted potential situations that victims may face," he said.
Sgt. 1st Class Richard Parrish, brigade sexual assault response coordinator, then spoke to Soldiers about what sexual harassment looks like as well as how it can corrode unit cohesion and combat readiness.
He covered various topics related to the SHARP program, such as holding your leadership and peers accountable, adhering to the standard, and reporting procedures. He called upon audience participation to drive most of his points home.
In the afternoon, Lumpkin presented SHARP training to the brigade leaders. They received information on current policies as well as their roles and responsibilities in the SHARP process. Lumpkin engaged leaders in a dialogue about possible scenarios and how to deal with them. One thing he emphasized was the importance of doing the right thing as leaders and communicating with their Soldiers about SHARP and possible threats to safety.
"If we want a professional work environment, we have to create that," Lumpkin said. "Leaders as well as lower enlisted are responsible for that."
After Lumpkin, the guest speaker, Leslie Watts spoke to the leaders. Watts, the post SHARP program manager, said that everyone can help to prevent and stop sexual harassment and assault.
"At the Soldier level everyone is a leader; and it takes leaders to prevent atrocities like sexual harassment and sexual assault from happening," Watts said.
Lumpkin said he has seen the culture of SHARP in our Army transform and advance in a positive direction. What was once overlooked in past decades can spell an immediate career-ender for assailants in today's Army.
"The culture has changed in terms of awareness," said Lumpkin. "We are more aware of behaviors that are acceptable for today's Soldiers."
Within his role as the brigade victim advocate, Lumpkin has dealt with numerous cases, and said that the perpetrators range from senior officers all the way to the junior enlisted.
Pollard, who has witnessed the legal process first hand, said it may come as a shock to many that junior enlisted don't completely make up the demographic of sexual harassment and assault perpetrators.
Fortunately, the 75th FAB does its part in stopping predators in their tracks without an exception to rank.
After an accusation of sexual assault has been made, Criminal Investigation Division will analyze the complaint. Once the investigation process has been completed, a commander will then decide how the Soldier will be dealt with if he or she is guilty.
According to the paralegal specialist, he has seen some of the heaviest punishments under the Uniform Code of Military Justice doled out; and said brigade leaders aren't playing around when it comes to SHARP related incidents.
"I've yet to meet a first sergeant or commander who doesn't care about the SHARP program," Pollard said. "Commanders in this brigade have no problem holding Soldiers accountable for their actions regardless of their rank."
Lt. Col. Will Freds, 75th FAB provisional commander, said programs, such as SHARP, can have a big impact on a unit.
"A trustworthy, cohesive, and highly-effective team only happens when everybody understands how to treat each other," he said. "We have to always be cognizant of how we display respect and trust in our organization. SHARP is at the cornerstone of how we value each other; and sexual harassment and assault have no place in our team-driven environment."