SHILOH, Ill. -- The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command’s sexual assault response coordinator is doing her part to ensure readiness by leveraging the digital space to train more than 550 of the command’s military and civilian personnel in the COVID-19 environment.
The Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program’s mission is to enhance Army readiness through the prevention of sexual assault, sexual harassment and associated retaliatory behaviors while providing comprehensive response capabilities.
“Our people are the centerpiece of the Army, and we must do all we can to take care of them,” said Brig. Gen. Heidi Hoyle, SDDC commanding general. “Sexual assault and sexual harassment are readiness destroyers that degrade readiness by taking teammates out of the fight and degrading trust in the organization.”
Lisa Coleman, SDDC sexual assault response coordinator, and Staff Sgt. Justin Vandenbossche, SDDC victim advocate, have been conducting training virtually for the headquarters via Microsoft Teams for the last month and plan to have the headquarters staff 100% trained by the middle of August.
“All military and civilian personnel in SDDC are required to take annual SHARP training,” said Coleman. “Each Brigade has a full-time SARC and Victim Advocate and are responsible for their own footprint.”
Microsoft Teams is a communication and collaboration platform that combines video meetings, chat, file storage and application integration.
SDDC has adopted this platform to communicate with its employees in the telework and social distancing environment. By using Teams, Coleman can provide training to those who are teleworking and working in the headquarters.
“Doing this training now keeps everyone operating with a shared understanding of expectations, both in telework and those coming in to the building,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Rocky Carr, SDDC’s senior enlisted leader.
The digital platform creates a safe place for Coleman and her student to interact. Once the restrictions are lifted, Coleman plans to continue using the digital platform to train Surface Warriors who are geographically separated from the headquarters.
“I will continue to use Teams as a way to have training and meet with brigade sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates, due to the fact that Brigades are geographically located around the world,” said Coleman.
Prevention efforts like this training protect the force and support implementation of the Army People Strategy - Acquire, Develop, Employ and Retain Talent. Each measure advances the Army toward the goal of eliminating incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault and associated retaliatory behaviors.
“The training sets the tone for the Command,” said Michael Hutchison, SDDC deputy to the commander. “It not only informs the workforce about how to handle SHARP incidents but also communicates to the workforce that we insist on a workplace were everyone is treated with dignity and respect, so that everyone can reach their maximum potential.”
Coleman and the SDDC leaders are doing their part to create and sustain a healthy command climate and a culture of dignity and respect founded on Army Values and standards and exemplified through cohesive teams.
“We are all charged with setting conditions that enforce Army standards to prevent sexual offenses. Protecting our people protects our mission,” said Gen. James C. McConville, Army Chief of Staff in a recent tweet.