Taking a personal initiative, Staff Sgt. Vanessa Wise secured her national certification as an advocate for victims of sexual harassment and assault in 2016. Her first assignment as a victim advocate was for the 4th Squadron, 2d Cavalry Regiment, where she also worked as the non-commissioned officer in charge of the intelligence shop.
Now a regimental VA for the Sexual Harassment Assault Response Prevention program, Wise aims to help victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
"I care a lot about Soldiers in general, and being a victim advocate at the regimental level gives me the opportunity to help a large number of Soldiers," said Wise.
Wise began her work with victim advocacy after arriving in Germany as a junior non-commissioned officer. The extra responsibility and leadership expected of NCOs prompted her to seek additional ways to help junior enlisted Soldiers.
At the squadron echelon, she worked directly with victims, escorting them to legal and medical appointments and recording their statements. When she began working for the regimental headquarters, she became responsible for ensuring that lower-level VAs were properly certified.
She believes the key to mitigating sexual crimes in units lies with preventing sexually-oriented jokes and derogatory sexual comments, which can lead to more serious offenses if left unchecked. As a SHARP victim advocate, she encourages leaders at all levels to crack down on unprofessional sexual conduct by their subordinates, peers or even superiors.
"The regiment hasn't received any sexual assault or harassment cases in the second quarter of fiscal year 2019, but I believe a lot of work remains across the Army to change the culture," said Wise.
In observation of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, Wise briefly discussed the various events that are scheduled to take place. The month's events include multiple briefs and guest speakers, a surf-and-turf lunch served by the VAs on April 2, a dinner sponsored by the United Service Organizations on April 4 and a buddy-team competition run on April 19.