JOINT BASE LANGLEY - EUSTIS, Va. – Soldiers Against Sexual Assault/Harassment, or SASH - is making its way throughout the Army, one teal tab at a time.
Staff Sgt. Saquawia Pennington, an Army victim advocate assigned to 111th Military Intelligence Brigade, Fort Huachuca, Arizona, takes a great deal of pride in wearing the teal tab on her Army combat uniform to ensure Soldiers know who their representatives are at a glance, and providing the sexual harassment/assault response and prevention training required to trainees in order to wear one too.
“If you can give a Soldier purpose, with an emphasis on focusing outwardly, instead of just thinking of themselves, that’s huge,” Pennington said.
Making it “cool to care” is one of Pennington’s mottos.
The SASH program teaches young Soldiers how to intervene or stand up for themselves against sexual harassment or assault. It also educates them on the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program sanctioned by the SHARP Academy, along with team building events focused on unit cohesion. Additionally, trainees are provided resiliency training, equal opportunity training, and suicide prevention tools and strategies.
During SASH meetings Soldiers generally discuss suicide, suicide prevention strategies, resiliency techniques, bystander intervention strategies, and diversity inclusion. The meetings are all informal to create a relaxed environment where Soldiers can have candid discussions regarding the trends they are witnessing, and how they can best address those issues.
“We believe that in order to promote change, we have to motivate Soldiers to do so from within and cultivate a message of "family, unity, respect and dignity,"’ Pennington said. “We look out for one another. We are all about promoting "This is my Squad!”’
Brig. Gen. Anthony R. Hale, commanding general, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, is in full support of the program.
“The SASH program is an irreplaceable facet of our SHARP program because it is a force multiplier, creating a culture of respect and safety from the bottom up by utilizing the innovation, creativity, and energy of our youngest Soldiers,” Hale said.
Prior to Pennington’s arrival at Fort Huachuca, it was only offered to Advanced Individual Training students. Now it’s open to all permanent party personnel too, and many are enthusiastically donning the teal tab.
Since the tab has yet to become authorized Army wide, each garrison commander can approve its use at local levels.
To achieve and wear the SASH tab, one must be of good academic standing, meet all height and weight requirements in accordance with Army Regulation 600-9, pass an annual Army Combat Fitness Test, must not be facing disciplinary actions, or have had more than one negative counseling, be interviewed and receive approval from their battalion chain of command prior to program enrollment, be interviewed by the sexual assault response coordinator prior to enrollment, and cannot have any founded cases of EO, SHARP, or Inspector General related issues pending.
Even when “tabbed,” bearers do not carry the same responsibilities as official victim advocates. They do not have official reporting authority. They will not ask questions, conduct investigations, and they are not authorized to discuss any reports of sexual harassment or assault with anyone outside of SHARP channels.
SASH members must continuously meet the requirements listed above in order to remain in the SASH program. They must also attend monthly meetings held by the brigade SHARP team, and they are required to display the teal tab on their left sleeve at all times while wearing the Army Combat Uniform.
“A lot of people have asked me what policies or regulations govern when and how we operate as a SASH Program,” Pennington said. “I didn’t need any marching orders to tell me how to be a good person or how to motivate and cultivate young leaders to do the same. Love is love, and it’s infectious. Being there for others is in my heart and I believe that there are a lot of other Soldiers who feel the same way. Those Soldiers just need the space and an opportunity to do that. I want to open up doors via the SASH Program so Soldiers can get the information that they need in order to take better care of themselves and others.
“More than anything, I believe that the SASH program is about community, family, friendship, and unity.”
For more information about initiating a SASH program at your installation, email: firstname.lastname@example.org