The expedited transfer policy is in place to protect sexual assault victims, giving them the option to transfer away from a unit where they may be facing retaliation, isolation, or having to work near their alleged assailant daily. The policy is a critical component of supporting sexual assault survivors, and delays in the processing of the transfer request can cause further harm to the victim and negatively affect unit readiness.
To ensure commanders understand the policy, and the importance of processing an expedited transfer request in a timely manner, the SHARP Academy recently supported an Army-wide effort to retrain Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program professionals on current policy requirements. SHARP professionals, who advise commanders as well as Soldiers on the policy, received four 90-minute training sessions over the course of two weeks. The training included SHARP program managers, Sexual Assault Response Coordinators, Victim Advocates, and trainers at the brigade level or higher. In turn, SHARP professionals retrained commanders Army-wide on the policy, focusing on the commander’s role in the process.
“Commanders should understand their responsibility to ensure a victim feels safe, ensure a victim is updated on their case, and to adhere to timelines outlined in the policy,” SHARP officials said.
The training emphasized the commander’s responsibility to track the timeline of an expedited transfer request, including the number of days between the day the expedited transfer was approved and the date the victim physically transferred from the installation or unit to their new assignment location. Any expedited transfer that takes longer than 30 days must be reported to and reviewed by the installation’s commanding general (the Chair of the Sexual Assault Review Board).
The responsibilities of gaining and losing commanders once a transfer has been approved includes:
• If the victim requests updates on their case or ongoing SHARP services, the gaining brigade commander must participate in the losing unit SARB and provide the victim an update within 72 hours of the SARB.
• The losing brigade commander must ensure the gaining brigade commander is notified of the Soldier’s arrival to their command when one of the following applies:
- Active criminal investigation or legal proceeding
- Ongoing victim medical or mental healthcare related to the sexual assault
- Ongoing monthly SARB oversight involving the victim
- Active SHARP victim support services
When notifying the new brigade commander, only information that provides context for victim behavior and facilitates their access to support services should be shared. It should be limited to objective facts about victim care and the status of open investigations and ongoing legal proceedings. Gaining brigade commanders should ensure strict confidentiality, only the immediate commander of the victim should be notified. The senior enlisted advisor of the unit can be notified if deemed necessary.
Only Soldiers who file an unrestricted report are eligible for an expedited transfer. Besides an expedited transfer, sexual assault survivors can also request an immediate safety move if they feel their safety is threatened at their current unit. Soldiers whose adult dependent was a victim of a sexual assault can also request an expedited transfer. For more information, contact your local SHARP professional at https://www.safehelpline.org/safehelplineservices?search=