By W. Wayne MarlowAugust 8, 2018
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- First Army demonstrated its commitment to the eradication of sexual assault and harassment during a summit here Aug. 7-9. Attending were Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Victim Advocates from subordinate First Army units across the country.
Topics included human trafficking, CID investigations, victim resources, premobilization requirements, and advocate resiliency.
Lt. Col. Karen Luisi, First Army Commander's Ready and Resilient Council manager, talked about what First Army hoped to accomplish during the week.
"The first goal is to make sure everyone gets their Continuing Education Units. They have to have 32 units every two years, and they get 20 by coming here," she said. "The second goal is that they learn the requirements from the SHARP perspective about what it takes for Reserve and Guard Soldiers to get credentialed before they mobilize. The process is not a short one with the background checks, the seven-week school, and all of that. Helping them understand that whole process is the biggest piece of this conference."
Meanwhile, Penny Gietzen, SHARP program manager for Headquarters First Army, stressed the importance of working together to accomplish the goals.
"I love what I do, I'm very passionate about the SHARP program, which is one of the reasons I wanted to come to Rock Island Arsenal and take the program manager position," she told attendees. "You guys are an outstanding team and I look forward to working with each and every one of you and growing our SHARP program and making it bigger and stronger. We have a mission that we have to tackle and I'm confident with all of you as part of the team that we'll be able to do that."
She then outlined some of the summit's goals.
"One objective is to provide you with the continuing education units so you can keep your credentials and make sure you're certified because you can't really assist the SHARP program if you're not credentialed and making sure that you're getting that additional training," Gietzen said.
Also crucial is understanding the mobilization process as it applies to SARCs and Program Managers. "It's really important that our pre-mob SARCs and Program Managers understand their role when it comes to supporting the units that are going to be coming through and getting ready to mobilize," Gietzen said. "We want to make sure you understand how you can be supporting those units and make sure you're communicating with those units and emphasizing the requirements. It's important they're thinking about who they are going to select for SARCs and Program Managers and making the right selection, and that they understand the importance of making those selections way in advance before getting to the mobilization station."
Gietzen also emphasized the importance of open dialogue in ensuring coordinators and Victim Advocates leave the summit understanding the breadth of their roles: "If you're not understanding how a certain piece relates to you or what the benefit is, we want to have those discussions so that the light bulb goes on and it clicks."
Maj. Gen. Chris Gentry, First Army deputy commanding general for support, told attendees the SHARP program is one of his biggest priorities, and that the summit can strengthen it.
"This is a very important opportunity for you all to get together and share ideas and best practices and talk about your experiences and help each other out as the First Army SHARP team," he said. "Your mission is incredibly important. I can't tell you seriously I take SHARP."
He charged attendees to use the summit to energize the program at their units. "Your job is tough and you have to have a certain nuance to work it effectively," Gentry said. "You have to use your communication skills to get your leaders fired up and convey to them how important it is to get this on the front burner."