The Eighth Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Prevention and Response Program office held its second annual SHARP Training Summit Sept. 19-20 at the Morning Calm Center on Camp Humphreys, South Korea. The theme for this year's two-day event -- It's On Us: Shaping a Culture of Prevention -- was conceptualized to provide resources to decrease, with a goal to eliminate, sexual harassment and assault from the Eighth Army force. The focus audience for the training summit was the mid-to-senior-level Soldier and civilian leaders and SHARP professionals across the Korean peninsula.
The goal of this year's summit was to "plant the seed."
"In order to get left of the boom, Eighth Army must put more effort and energy into prevention," said Dr. Hai-Wen Chu, Eighth Army SHARP program manager. "By bringing different subject matter experts from the field, we hope to show different perspectives, current practices in the civilian sector, and motivate the community to own our efforts in changing the culture. We need to shape our culture to show ownership, be more proactive and be innovative in prevention."
The annual event hosted guest speakers including the Department of the Army SHARP/R2 director, Dr. James Helis; the DA SHARP branch chief, Tammy Coon; and Army SHARP Academy director, Col. Christopher Engen.
Summit attendees received first-hand knowledge on the Headquarters, Army, SHARP program mission, vision and topline message. Leaders in attendance were able to learn the current SHARP statistics, fiscal year priorities, as well as the SHARP campaign plan framework.
Engen introduced participants to key elements of the Army's strategy for the prevention of sexual harassment and sexual assault and how to apply that guidance at the operational and tactical levels in the doctrinal context of mission command.
"(The Eighth Army SHARP summit) was an excellent forum with excellent speakers today," said Brig. Gen. Mark Simerly, commanding general, 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command. "The linkage of SHARP and mission command was powerful. The [survivor] panel testimony was also very effective and compelling."
Summit participants gained practical knowledge and strategy on how to "beat the blame game" to rid society of a culture that supports rape while challenging victim-blaming from Dr. Gail Stern, co-founder of Catharsis Productions.
Attendees heard compelling stories of survival from three guest speakers. Maj. Hali Picciano, Eric Barreras and Heath Phillips closed out day one of the summit by providing participants with first-hand knowledge of victimization, the impact of trauma, and discussed the dynamics of sexual assault reporting and care. The goal of the "survivor's journey" was to increase the understanding of the complexity of issues related to sexual and domestic violence through the lens of the survivor panel members.
Sergeant 1st Class Joseph Mesher, 2nd Infantry Division Republic of Korea/U.S. Combined Division, sexual assault response coordinator and summit attendee, discussed the impact senior leaders' attendance, which emphasizes the importance of the summit and that leaders care.
"Hearing the survivor stories was really insightful and opened my eyes to all that survivors go through and cope with from day to day," Mesher said.
Day two of the summit featured keynote presentations by Barreras who provided participants with knowledge from the male-victim perspective with the intent to understand various barriers associated with male reporting of sexual assault.
Veraunda Jackson's keynote address titled "What About You?" provided insight into the importance of adopting resiliency skills and being mindful of opportunities to uplift others while making a difference in the lives of survivors.
The summit also included a rare event, which was the participation and graduation of SHARP Foundation Course Class #555. Foundation students were presented graduation certificates from ASA director Engen himself, which was the first opportunity for Engen to participate in the graduation of the program for which he directs.
The summit concluded with a panel of subject matter experts and first responders from the local area as well as guest speakers. Eighth Army SHARP professionals also received their required ethics brief provided by Booker Metcalf, Eighth Army trainer, and U.S. Army Pacific Command SHARP deputy program manager, Sgt. 1st Class Dontavious Seales.
The Eighth Army Korea 24/7 SHARP Hotline is DSN 158 or 0503-363-5700.