By Army News ServiceJuly 5, 2018
ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Nearly 250 Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program managers, sexual assault response coordinators, and victim advocates from around the Army met here last week as part of the fourth annual SHARP Program Improvement Forum.
The event, held June 27-28, is part of an ongoing effort to improve the SHARP program and delivery of services to Soldiers around the Army.
During the two-day forum, attendees received in-depth instruction on prevention initiatives, sexual violence in the digital age, and intervention along the continuum of harm. Attendees also reviewed case studies on actions such as expedited transfers.
The PIF, said Monique Ferrell, who has served as the director of the Army's SHARP program since February 2015, "provides an environment where we can train on emerging issues, answer some of the questions from the folks who work in the field and, where they may have some challenges, to give them information to help them navigate those spaces."
The 2018 SHARP PIF included a variety of training and working group sessions as well as a presentation by Tony Porter, the chief executive officer and co-founder of "A Call to Men." During his presentation, Porter discussed the Army as a microcosm of the entire society. He said sexual assault is not a military problem, but one of the entire society.
AN EYE ON PREVENTION
One of the top efforts of the Army's SHARP program is prevention. One such prevention effort, meant to drive down sexual assaults and change Army culture, is the recently piloted "Mind's Eye 2" program.
"We launched the pilot at Fort Stewart, and the great thing about it, which is different than what we have done in the SHARP program before, is we are measuring the effectiveness of it before we launch it Army-wide," Ferrell said.
Mind's Eye 2 is a program designed to increase individual empathy and awareness of bias.
"Instead of focusing on what we don't want Soldiers and members of the formation to do, it focuses on what right looks like, and what it means to be a member of a team," Ferrell said. "It also helps us recognize when somebody in our formation might be going astray and in need of intervention."
Ferrell said Mind's Eye 2 teaches Soldiers how to recognize a situation that may be leading to sexual harassment or sexual assault, and it gives them the skills to be able to properly intervene."
"Hundreds" have already been trained on the program at Fort Stewart, she said.
Soldiers have told her the Mind's Eye 2 training is "very different" than what's been done in the past for SHARP. "They believe it's more impactful, and they believe it'll make a difference," she said.
At Fort Stewart, the program is being piloted with the 3rd Infantry Division's artillery section and the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team. The pilot kicked off in late January. After the initial training, there was an assessment of the program. Another assessment will be done in July.
That assessment will attempt to determine if, after participating in Mind's Eye 2 training, Soldiers are "able to recognize instances that could lead to sexual violence," Ferrell said. Additionally, the assessment will look at a Soldier's willingness and ability to intervene.
"Then, over time, we will measure the negative behavior in the unit to determine if there's been a decrease," Ferrell said.
When the assessments are complete, Ferrell said, the SHARP program will meet with Army leadership to discuss if the Army will move forward with implementation.
RESPECT YIELDS READINESS
The Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff have in recent months been focused on modernization. Late last year, they announced the intent to create a new modernization command, now called Futures Command. And both are also intently focused on readiness across the force.
Ensuring Soldiers respect one another, hold each other accountable for respecting each other, and intervene in situations where they see sexual harassment or suspect situations might turn into sexual assault, might not immediately seem as if it aligns with the Army's laser-like focus on readiness.
But Ferrell said that just isn't the case.
"You can't have a ready Army when you have sexual violence present in your formation," she said.
And Army leadership is 100 percent on board with her assessment.
"They understand that and they talk in those terms as well," she said. "SHARP is an enabler of readiness. And our leaders understand that we need to continue to focus on eradicating sexual violence from our formations. If you have Soldiers who have experienced sexual assault or sexual violence, they are not ready for the fight."