DETROIT ARSENAL, Mich. — When you think of sexual assault and sexual harassment, you do not think of a run/walk event being able to put a stop to it. However, it does gather people in solidarity to bring awareness, which can lead a community effort to reduce and hopefully put an end to these destructive behaviors.
Sgt. 1st Class Fransheska Wiggins, U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Victim Advocate, spearheaded the effort for the run/walk event at the Detroit Arsenal, Michigan Apr. 8.
“A run/walk event is what Soldiers typically do at a regular duty station,” said Wiggins. “Here at [the Detroit Arsenal] it’s not a traditional duty station, but we decided that the run/walk was still a way to bring the Soldiers and civilians together as a team.”
Maj. Gen. Darren Werner, Commanding General TACOM, provided opening remarks for the event and reiterated that team’s awareness and response can only be accomplished by working together.
“Sexual assault and sexual harassment hamper the Army’s capabilities, especially when it comes to building successful teams and maintaining unit morale,” said Werner. “We must continue to hold ourselves to a higher standard, take care of one another, and remain the standard bearers for our nation.”
In aligning the event with this year’s theme, “Building cohesive teams through character, trust, and resilience: protecting our people protects our mission,” Wiggins stated the event was all about team building.
“Bringing people within the unit together, all the way from the command team down to the lowest rank, shows support of the SHARP program,” said Wiggins.
Sgt. 1st Class Rainnier Tecson, Materiel Fielding and Training, was of one of the runners. He felt he had to come out and be a part of the team and support the SHARP program.
“I think it’s important to show we are taking [sexual assault prevention] seriously,” Tecson said.
Wiggins stated that although statistics show that claims of sexual assaults and sexual harassment have appeared to increase over the past couple of years, it does not mean there has been a rise in incidents.
“Bringing awareness to the problem has allowed victims to come forward without fear of reprisal or judgement,” said Wiggins. “Also, current reported incidents could just now be coming to light but happened before this year.”
According to Wiggins, statistically someone present at the event might be a victim of sexual assault or sexual harassment, and events like this are meant to have an impact and bring about change and stop any potential incidents at TACOM in the future.
“We’re here to build awareness, and to build that positive culture and atmosphere here in TACOM,” said Wiggins. “We can only start small, we can’t fix everything across the entire Army, but we can do our part to fix it at our level.”
Wiggins also pointed out that women are not the only victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment, and that an overall understanding of the impacts it can have on the unit will better help team members prevent it from happening to anyone.
Just prior to the run/walk event, Werner presided over the re-enlistment of Sgt. Wiggins.
“It’s not often you get the opportunity to be re-enlisted by a commanding general, let alone at a SAAPM event,” said Wiggins. “SHARP as a whole is a passion of mine. The fact that it was held together and supported by the commanding general is even more empowering for me to continue to do the right thing as a leader.”