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The Army’s new SHARP Director said she plans to address recent public concerns with the program through openness, honesty, and transparency.

“We’re never going to get better if we don’t admit that we have to better align our program resources to better support Soldiers,” said Jill Londagin, who assumed the job of SHARP Director on Sept. 14.

Recent events at Fort Hood have spurred several reviews into the effectiveness of the SHARP program. While the Army has made continued improvement in raising awareness, encouraging victims to report, and providing support services, rates of actual occurrence of sexual assaults remain inconsistent or static in the past decade. It is a situation Londagin is aware of.

“It’s time to take a look at the program and focus on the things that aren’t working so that we can change these areas to provide a more holistic program,” she said.

“Ms. Londagin brings a wealth of experience and a passion for helping Soldiers and their Families to the job,” said Dr. James Helis, Director of the Army Resilience Directorate, which includes the SHARP Division, “She is a great addition to the team.”

Londagin believes bringing an outsider like herself into the program shows the Army’s commitment to change and to combat sexual assault. Londagin, who has a Master's in Marriage and Family Therapy with a specialty in Military Sexual Trauma, brings her previous experience as the Program Director for Substance Use Disorder Clinical Care (SUDCC) and Suicide Risk Management at the Office of The Surgeon General, as well as a Behavioral Health Red Team member, to the SHARP program. At SUDCC, she led significant changes including making the Army the first military branch to integrate substance abuse and behavioral health treatment within the same clinic.

“I’m a transformational leader by design. I really don’t believe in the status quo, this is why my (email) signature block it says, ‘If you don’t like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less,’” Londagin said.

While SHARP provides education, training, and victim support services for Soldiers and leaders, it is not a standalone solution to the problem of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the Army, Londagin said. Eradication of sexual assault and sexual harassment requires addressing other structural and cultural factors alongside partners like the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, the Army’s Judge Advocate General and most significantly, commanders, who are charged with enforcing SHARP efforts and policies at their units.

“The role of the commander is really the most important role when it comes to preventing sexual assault and (sexual) harassment within our formations,” Londagin said. “The command team really sets the climate in the entire unit and is responsible for the health and welfare of Soldiers assigned to them.”

An Army veteran herself, Londagin is a former combat medic who deployed to Iraq and was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. She said she has seen firsthand the damage sexual assault causes to the Army.

In the Army, unlike in the civilian world or college campuses, Soldiers place their lives in the hands of fellow Soldiers and leaders, Londagin said.

“What we do is inherently dangerous. We’ve been at war for almost 20 years now, and we put trust in one another to be able to save our lives on the battlefield and win American’s wars,” she said. “Whenever you sexually assault somebody within your formation that is the ultimate betrayal of trust.”

“If somebody doesn’t trust you, and you don’t trust one another, you are not going to be ready and focused on the mission at hand,” she said.

Londagin believes it will take a concerted effort on the part of leaders to earn Soldier’s trust.

“Until our actions show that we have zero tolerance for sexual assault and harassment within our units by holding perpetrators accountable for their actions regardless of rank or position, we will continue to face (sexual assault) within our Army,” Londagin said. “We need to do better than this because we are better than this.”

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Army Resilience