Every April, the Army observes national Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, also known as SAAPM, with the goal of educating Soldiers, civilians and families on the prevention of sexual assault.
“Throughout the month, the 402nd Army Field Support Brigade will show support to the victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault,” said Arianna Livingston, the 402nd’s victim advocate and recent winner of U.S. Army Hawaii’s Civilian of the Year. “By pooling our efforts as a community, we will bring awareness to the something we all have the power to influence: Preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault.”
The 402nd’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program put together a calendar filled with events to increase understanding of each person’s role in preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault in the Army.
“We work very hard at the 402nd to create a culture of inclusion and respect,” said 402nd commander Col. Anthony Walters. “Even though sexual harassment and sexual assault may not be a pervasive issue here, the Fort Hood report indicates it’s an issue across the Army that we all have a duty to prevent.”
The report Walters referenced is the Report of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee, published last December. The report was the result of a three-month review of the base’s climate and culture by a civilian committee, according to Army.mil.
“The report found that there was a ‘permissive environment for sexual assault and sexual harassment,’ ” said 402nd Command Sgt. Maj. Adam Lepley. “Everyone in the 402nd, both Soldiers and civilians, has a role n sexual assault prevention. SAAPM is a great way to highlight the importance of sexual assault prevention and to eliminate this corrosive from our workforce. SAAPM also provides a means to build cohesive teams through trust and resilience.”
Events planned for April include signing of the 2021 SAAPM Proclamation by the 402nd command team, participating in “Teal Tuesdays” by wearing teal in support of sexual assault victims and the SHARP program, and a social media campaign organized by the Army’s Resilience Directorate.
“New this year we are also offering the DOD SafeHelp Room,” said Livingston. “Working within the limits of COVID-19 mitigation, we are offering a virtual anonymous chat room for 402nd teammates to join and participate in. The chat room will be hosted online by a credentialed and verified SHARP professional and allow people to participate anonymously. They can share what sexual harassment and sexual assault means to them and talk freely without fear of judgment from others as conversation will be monitored and guided by a SHARP professional.”
The Army’s theme for SAAPM 2021 is "SHARP: Shaping a Culture of Trust: Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission."
“Everyone at 402nd is a vital part of the organization's overall culture, and if we can encourage everyone to participate and engage in the events, we'll be closer to the mission of truly putting our people first and actually creating and maintaining a culture where everyone is treated with dignity and respect,” said Lepley.
The breadth of opportunities to participate in SAAPM are scheduled in a way to provide opportunities for the workforce to think about what sexual harassment and sexual assault mean to them personally, according to Lepley.
“We hope that the 402nd ‘Ohana’ walks away from SAAPM with a better understanding on how incredibly prevalent sexual assault is in our community, and with the desire to do whatever they can as individuals to help the military community in preventing future incidents,” said Livingston. “We hope they learn that they have a voice in this issue, whether or not they've experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault themselves.”
Editor's note: "Ohana" is a Hawaiian term meaning "family," although it can be used to include social units larger than the immediate or biological family. All members of an ohana are valued and respected, and no one in an ohana is ever left behind.