CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea (Dec. 23, 2021) – The Camp Humphreys Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program hosted a reverse panel at the Four Chaplains Memorial Chapel Dec.14.
The panel relayed raw feedback from junior enlisted Soldiers to military leaders about the Army Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention program, Equal Opportunity, and leadership.
“The idea with our reverse panels is that we want to be able to give the lower enlisted, which mostly encompasses our BOSS program, the opportunity to ask these questions directly to higher chain of command, like our senior leadership,” said Spc. Ian Holmes, the U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys BOSS president. “BOSS wants to focus on SHARP because the majority of cases that we see happen, happen between the ages of 18 and 24. We see that’s the most high risk grouping that takes place. The majority of our BOSS reps and Soldiers that take part within BOSS fall within that range.”
The forum encouraged candid conversation between junior Soldiers and senior leaders. Soldiers asked questions about their concerns, ranging from general policy changes to reporting options to what to do if they encounter challenges getting help. Many referenced specific examples to illustrate to the leaders what they have experienced at their level.
“I really enjoyed the discussion because it got down to the meat and bones of some of the situations,” said Sgt. Keith Scott, the BOSS representative for Company B, 719th Military Intelligence Battalion, 501st Military Intelligence Brigade. “The junior Soldiers have a direct communication with the senior leaders. They can see how the senior leaders think, and it also helps to change their outlook a bit.”
Leaders offered insight into how they approach issues, including actions junior Soldiers usually would not be aware of. They also discussed resources Soldiers have available and methods to bring up issues to higher-level leaders when their complaints don’t seem to be taken seriously.
Master Sgt. Kyisha Crawford, the Eighth Army SHARP program noncommissioned officer in charge, provided clarifications of policies, definitions, and what that means in day-to-day work and life. She also discussed recent regulation changes and options for service members when faced with a SHARP incident.
Several junior Soldiers gave examples of experiences where their leaders did not take complaints seriously. Multiple leaders in attendance voiced encouragement to seek help outside the direct chain of command. Crawford offered support and an avenue to take action.
“Regulation states that your chain of command, your leader, must act upon it. By regulation, you tell someone, they have to inform the commander. The commander has to choose to do either a 15-6 or a commander’s inquiry any time a sexual harassment complaint comes up that they’ve been made aware of,” Crawford stated. “Your leaders have been charged with that. So if you’re telling someone and you feel like nothing is being done, call me. I guarantee you, I’ll get somebody to do something about it.”
The discussion also covered ways Soldiers could help their leaders understand what may be happening at the Soldier level of their organizations. One leader suggested using anonymous index cards.
“I really liked the index card play. We have those surveys, but we all know that Soldiers just, they don’t want to do it,” said Capt. Emily Merrick, the commander of 501st U.S. Army Network Enterprise Center-Humphreys, 41st Signal Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade. “We have some of the sensing sessions, and I’ve talked to my leadership, my platoon leaders, about how they can get about it, but I think the index card is just, like a great way to be like ‘hey at the end of the day you can plop this in the box. I’m not going to look for who it is.’ It does help bring up issues and concerns that I might not be aware of at the time.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Lemon, the U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys senior enlisted leader, addressed Soldiers’ concerns that reports were not being investigated.
“It is investigated. We just do a horrible job of being transparent where we can be. When you start talking about things under investigation, we have to protect everyone’s rights so we’re not going to tell you certain things that you, quite frankly, shouldn’t be privy to,” said Lemon. “We need to do a better job of … reinforcing it and saying ‘hey we got this information and it is being investigated’ so you know, if it happens to you, you know it’ll get investigated.”
The Humphreys BOSS program plans to hold a series of panels throughout 2022 addressing important subjects such as inclusion, equal opportunity, and mental health, added Holmes.