By Jo Anita MileyDecember 6, 2019
Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention is an Armywide effort to change a culture; and training is a huge part of it.
Redstone Arsenal employees have an opportunity to sign up to receive the required mandatory annual Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention training that is being offered from January through September at various locations on post.
Larry Gray, Sexual Assault Response Program coordinator for the Garrison, helps coordinate the yearly SHARP training schedule. The training, open to Soldiers, civilians or contractors assigned to Redstone, provides information about sexual assault and sexual harassment and educates employees on how to prevent sexual violence.
The Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Prevention program's mission is to reduce, with an aim toward eliminating, sexual offenses within the Army. SHARP training is focused on awareness and prevention and speaks to a serious issue in the Army. Gray said the overarching goal for the SHARP program is to reduce the stigma of reporting and increase prevention, investigation and prosecution capabilities while ensuring protection of sexual assault victims from retaliation and threats. It is the Army's policy to use training, education and awareness to prevent sexual harassment/assault; promote sensitive handling of victims; offer victim assistance and counseling; and provide timely and thorough investigation of all reported incidents.
"I have worked with victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault in both the civilian and military populations. So I know this is not a preferred subject for everyone, and it's a challenging task to administer the training. However, it's a very important subject for the Army," Gray said. "This training is about changing the culture and the behavior within the federal government. Sexual assault is a serious crime that has no place in the Army, and will not be condoned or tolerated."
Gray said sometimes it's a challenge to relate training built for Soldiers to the civilian workforce. That's why his office is working hard to fully integrate the Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program within the civilian working environment and get buy-in.
Gray and Stephanie Young, a victim advocate for Redstone Arsenal, work together to support survivors and prevent sexual violence year-round. He stressed how important it is for organizations to move beyond thinking SHARP is a topic that can only emphasized once a year during Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month in April. Taking the mandatory training each year is just a start. Sexual violence is an ongoing problem that requires a continuous effort.
Each Army organization on Redstone is required to have a SHARP program manager, who facilitates a year-round program to raise awareness on the problems with sexual harassment/assault in the workplace, and teach employees how to prevent it and report it. They also provide support for the sexual assault response coordinators and victims' advocates within their organization.
Rachel Arceneaux, Sexual Assault Response Program coordinator and instructor at Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center, is responsible for the SHARP program at her organization. She also partners with other Redstone professionals to facilitate the postwide SHARP training.
Arceneaux emphasized the importance of leaders making sure the employees within their organizations are taken care of. Her team has implemented a monthly SHARP physical spot check to ensure the work environment is free of anything offensive in nature that may become a problem for employees. There is an added focus on their employees being able to correlate SHARP with other topics such as domestic violence and alcohol abuse and prevention. She also distributes SHARP posters with focused preventive measures and shares monthly "SHARP Tips" to the center's workforce to ensure that SHARP remains an integral topic within the organization.
Gray has implemented a yearlong campaign to raise awareness on the impact of sexual violence within the Redstone workforce. Beginning in January, he is presenting silhouettes (in the Redstone Rocket) of people who live or work here who have been personally impacted by sexual violence.
"Victims will have an opportunity to help others by sharing their stories. This is just another way that we are working to support survivors and prevent sexual violence," Gray said. "One of the biggest mistakes many persons make is to assume this topic doesn't affect them or the people around them. They don't realize this problem may be a lot closer to them. They don't stop to think that their family member, friend, co-worker -- the person sitting next to them may be a victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault. Both can happen to anyone, at any time. The Redstone Arsenal SHARP teams strive to be agents of change."