FORT HOOD — April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and the U.S. Army is committed to eliminating sexual assault, sexual harassment and associated retaliatory behaviors from its formations. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way the Army and the rest of the world interacts, enforcing the Army’s intolerance of sexual assault and harassment has not.
As Fort Hood continues safe social distancing practices and incorporates methods for teleworking and reduced staffing, 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command’s SHARP team, Sgt. 1st Class Erikewanna Branch and Sgt. 1st Class Kamishia Lee, want to ensure the SHARP message is still heard loud and clear.
This year’s theme is, “Building Cohesive Teams through Character, Trust and Resilience. Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission,” and it’s something the team emphasizes as they conduct their day-to-day visits around the 13th ESC.
“Emphasizing the importance of strengthening our team cohesion by eliminating SHARP related incidents is critical,” Branch said. “Creating a culture of trust where Soldiers feel safe is crucial for the Army and our mission.”
Branch has been involved with the SHARP program for five years, while Lee has been involved for seven years.
With their years of experience, they realize the impact the program has and do everything they can to highlight it.
“When Soldiers raise their right hands to voluntarily defend our nation against all enemies foreign and domestic, trusting those serving beside you is something they expect and deserve,” Lee said. “We are the SHARP representatives but it is ALL of our responsibilities to enforce the standard.”
1st Lt. Rylee N. Jerolaman, executive officer, 53rd Quartermaster Company, expresses the importance of the program to her unit, and is glad the 13th ESC SHARP team stays active, especially in these unprecedented times.
“To me, SHARP is an amazing program that gives Soldiers the opportunity to seek help outside their chain of command, allowing them to feel more comfortable and more willing to come forward to get help,” Jerolaman said. “I am thankful for everything the SHARP team does for our leaders and Soldiers.”
With low manning protocols in place, Lee and Branch utilize technology to help spread the SHARP message.
“We engage Soldiers and leaders to help make videos emphasizing the SHARP message,” Branch said. “Even though we are practicing safe social distancing, we can still get the message out through electronic means.”
The 13th ESC’s dynamic duo of Lee and Branch will continue fighting against SHARP violations as operations adapt to COVID-19, and any opportunity to interact around the units to get the message out is a success.
“This also gives us the opportunity to do face-to-face training with Soldiers and leaders while maintaining safe social distancing,” Lee said.
SHARP violations have no place in the Army, and those who commit them will be thoroughly investigated and held accountable for their actions.
“There is no excuse for sexual harassment or abuse,” said 1st Sgt. Michael Baker, 53rd Quartermaster Company. “If you see something, say something!”
For more information on the Army SHARP program please visit: https://www.sexualassault.army.mil/.
If you need help, call the Safe Helpline at:
877-995-5247 or text 55-247 (In the U.S.) or
202-470-5546 (Outside the U.S.)