Lt. Col Erin M. Reed-Warren, Command Inspector General for 21st Theater Sustainment Command says the ultimate goal of the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program is prevention. SHARP is well-managed and meeting most 21st TSC Soldiers’ expectations, according to a recent 21st TSC IG report.
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lt. Col Erin M. Reed-Warren, Command Inspector General for 21st Theater Sustainment Command says the ultimate goal of the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program is prevention. SHARP is well-managed and meeting most 21st TSC Soldiers’ expectations, according to a recent 21st TSC IG report. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
The Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program is well-managed and meeting most 21st TSC Soldiers’ expectations, according to a recent 21st TSC IG report. Individuals can call local SHARP hotlines 24/7.
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program is well-managed and meeting most 21st TSC Soldiers’ expectations, according to a recent 21st TSC IG report. Individuals can call local SHARP hotlines 24/7. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program is well-managed and meeting most 21st TSC Soldiers’ expectations, according to a recent 21st TSC IG report. An IG-led inspection team that included SHARP and criminal investigation subject matter experts conducted interviews and assessments across all ranks at Baumholder, Sembach, Rhine Ordinance Barracks, Vilseck, and Stuttgart this past May and June. In total, Service Members in three brigades, five battalions and ten companies participated in “sensing sessions” and interviews regarding their knowledge and perceptions of SHARP.

“Do soldiers (at 21st TSC) know what to do if their battle buddy comes to them and says, ‘Hey, this happened to me?’” asked Lt. Col. Erin M. Reed-Warren LTC, 21st TSC Command Inspector General. “Overwhelmingly, yes, they do know.”

According to the 21st TSC IG report, the majority of 21st TSC Service Members and SHARP professionals queried feel their commanders fully support SHARP and would take appropriate actions towards a SHARP incident. Most SMs (86% of those surveyed) feel they would be able to report a SHARP incident to their chain of command, and most (91%) believe their commander’s interest in the SHARP Program is above average. Among SHARP professionals, that belief was slightly lower (80%).

“We found that soldiers actually trust that if something happened to them, they trust that their command knew what to do to help them get through that moment,” said Reed-Warren. “They trust their SARC professionals, their SHARP professionals, victim advocates, the division level SHARP PM office—they trust all of them.”

Another key finding was that although Soldiers felt physically safe overall, NCO’s in particular, were concerned about safety.

Reed-Warren said the team was shocked to find that even though commanders have standard operating procedures in place and routine change of quarters checks, internal and external barracks doors were being propped open, left unlocked, or compromised with wads of paper in the locking mechanisms.

Propped entryway doors enable easy access to and from the barracks without having to use the front door. Reed-Warren explained Soldiers may do this so to avoid having to sign in and out and report on where they are going. Internal doors to rooms may be left unlocked or compromised because a service member or roommate lost keys or their automated key needs to be reset.

“What they don’t understand is…what they are also doing is enabling a predator to come and go as they please,” she said. “When you break that policy, you are now making yourself and your roommate vulnerable to someone who may want to do you harm.” According to CID subject matter experts, most SHARP incidents occur in base living quarters.

In addition to determining if the SHARP program was meeting Soldier’s needs, the team assessed the execution and compliance of the SHARP Program throughout the 21st TSC. They reviewed appointment orders and policies and interviewed 10 sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates. They determined each of the 21st TSC SHARP professionals were fully trained and truly cared about the program.

“All those professionals are so passionate about their job,” said Reed-Warren. “We could clearly see why the soldiers trust going to them.”

According to 21st TSC SHARP Program Manager Sarah Gordon, command SHARP professionals must be committed to meet the professional, emotional and psychological challenges of their positions.

“The foundation is you have to want to do this,” said Gordon. The number of SHARP cases as well as the scope of responsibilities are significant. 21st TSC SHARP professionals and victims do not have access to the same resources available in the states, such as rape crisis centers, counselors and hospitals that have MOU or MOA agreements with SHARP. In addition, the civilian hiring process can be lengthy, shifting more responsibility to active duty SHARP professionals.

“From the day that victim is known to us, that SARC or that Victim Advocate are providing services all the way through case disposition,” said Gordon. “And sometimes even beyond case disposition… that victim may continue to need service. We could be talking years’ worth of a relationship with one victim.”

Gordon said the recent Ft. Hood Independent Review Commission report, which arose after the investigation into the disappearance and murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillén, identified ways to improve the program, such as making sure communication flows to the company and squad levels.

“A lot of information was being collected at the Sexual Assault Review Board, but it wasn’t being powered down to the folks who actually needed it, getting down below the brigade commanders to the battalion and company,” said Gordon.

“I took that as a learning point, so one of the things that we are slowly implementing into our battle rhythm is improving skills for our Sharp professionals,” she said. In addition to building communication skills, plans are to provide additional training in bystander intervention. SHARP professionals will then be able to include this prevention-oriented training to Service Members.

The 21st TSC IG’s report included the following recommendations:

• Have SHARP professionals attend Battalion Command and Staff at least once a month. This approach will ensure SHARP training/events are visible and provides subject matter experts an opportunity to voice program concerns.

• Direct company chain of command walkthroughs and hold Soldiers and Charge of Quarters personnel accountable for security violations. Require all personnel attempting to enter barracks to provide identification to CQ who will verify residence per barracks roster.

• Units include effective confrontation/communication and corrective counseling techniques in their Junior Leader Development Program.

• Leaders walk through and engage in conversations with individuals within their footprint (barracks, offices, buildings, and motor pool), providing another layer of leadership oversight.

• Require CQ to do security checks on all emergency exits; ensuring they are closed.

The 21st TSC IG report comes on the heels of the Army’s announcement in May that it will restructure its Criminal Investigation Command and improve the SHARP program by streamlining military protective orders issuance and how sexual assault victims receive case notifications. Investigators must now be from outside the investigation subject’s brigade-sized element.

In addition, the Department of Defense released the Secretary of Defense’s guidance on, and recommendations from, the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military in July. The IRC made 82 recommendations in four priority areas: accountability; prevention; climate and culture; and victim care and support.

“Climate and culture sets the tone for all others,” said Gordon. “There should be a climate of prevention. There should be a climate of care and support for victims and anybody else who comes forward to report. And not just sexual assault.”

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Reed-Warren agrees. “We also have to look at the environment as a whole,” she said. “Because things like extremism, things like suicide, SHARP incidences—a lot of those things would be eliminated if only the formation understood how to treat each other with dignity and respect.”

The ultimate goal, according to Gordon and Reed-Warren, is prevention.