FORT MEADE, Md. -- The Soldiers of the 704th Military Intelligence (MI) Brigade kicked off this year's Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month in a big way April 5, at Fort Meade's McGlachlin parade field, this year.
This year's theme, "Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP): Shaping a Culture of Trust. Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission," emphasizes the critical role everyone plays in preventing sexual harassment and assault.
Instead of the traditional annual SHARP Awareness Run, the organization decided to bring Soldiers together for a different kind of physical event that involved challenging their mental strength as well; all while carrying an egg.
More than 400 Soldiers, divided by company, moved out to one of 10 stations during the SHARP Challenge while carrying an egg, as their knowledge of the SHARP program was put to the test.
Monica Carr, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), assigned to the 704th MI Brigade said, "The Soldiers carry the egg to symbolize dealing with a victim when they first come in to report a sexual assault. That team then carries the victim (the egg) through the entire process from the beginning to the end as they make their way to the safety station, the last station, to symbolize that the unit will be with them to support them the entire way."
Each station, ran by a Victim Advocate (VA), had questions related to the SHARP program for Soldiers to answer and earn points. The stations included questions on the reporting processes, who victims can report to, what rights the victims have and what resources are available to them; just to name a few. At the end of the four-minute round, the Soldiers conducted various exercises before moving on to the next station.
The SHARP Challenge was put on to spread awareness, with community support and prevention being the ultimate goal.
"I just want everyone to understand from this event that sexual assault and sexual harassment not only effects the individual dealing with it, but it effects the community as well," said Carr. "As a whole, we have to be able to fight this together and let any victim know that we are there for them in times of crisis."
The winner of the SHARP Challenge was Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 704th MI Bde. The unit was awarded the first SHARP Challenge guidon streamer.
Col. Heidi A. Urben, commander of the 704th MI Brigade, ensured that each VA working within the Brigade introduced themselves so that the Soldiers of the organization can see their faces.
"Our victim advocates are our trainers, they're the people we go to in times of crisis, they are the ones who are constantly educating the force and they're there for our victims in a time of need," said Urben.
She concluded the event, by leading a proclamation signing of the SHARP Commitment Pledge, followed by other leaders of the Brigade that will be displayed at the Brigade headquarters for the rest of the month.
"This whole month we have increased awareness. It's not the only month that we care about preventing sexual assault and sexual harassment in our ranks, but it's a month of focus time where we can try to get better as an Army," she said.