JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
The 16th Combat Aviation Brigade command team signed a proclamation signifying its support for eliminating sexual assault and harassment in the Army, here, April 1, 2022.
“It reinforces the message that we all have a duty and responsibility to eradicate these forms of
harmful behaviors within our organization,” said Master Sgt. Maria Taylor, the 16th CAB sexual assault response coordinator.
The proclamation was signed at the 16th CAB headquarters by three senior leaders including Col. D. Shane Finison, the brigade commander, Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Boyle, the brigade senior enlisted advisor, and Chief Warrant Officer 5, Barry Sledd, the brigade command chief warrant officer in preparation of the upcoming month of events to help reaffirm their commitment to eliminating sexual harassment and sexual assault within the Army’s ranks.
“When we talk about coming to work, everyone should be treated with dignity and respect,” said Finison. “We can’t have Soldiers worried about how they are going to be treated or what’s going to be said next.”
This year’s theme is “Prevention Starts with You.”
The Army's SHARP program exists so the Army can prevent sexual harassment and sexual assaults before they occur. The goal is to eliminate sexual assaults and sexual harassment by creating a climate that respects the dignity of every member of the Army family.
This theme builds on the concept of upholding what it means to be a member of an Army team. When it comes to sexual assault and sexual harassment, the only person responsible for committing the act is the perpetrator, but all members of the team can look out for each other’s safety.
“I am ecstatic that this year's theme focuses on prevention. Within the SHARP program, we center a lot of our efforts purely around response,” said Taylor. “Prevention is one aspect of the SHARP program that, in my opinion, doesn't get enough deserved attention on. The foundational idea of prevention recognizes that everybody in our community are allies and we each have a responsibility in taking preventative action in the face of sexual violence.”
The act of prevention is something ingrained in all people. We regularly take action to prevent things from happening. For example, changing the oil in your car to prevent engine problems. Prevention is a valuable skill and affects the quality of Soldiers and the overall health of the organization.
Within 16th CAB, one prevention initiative that helps Soldiers in the formation recognize the crucial role that everyone plays in the prevention of sexual assault/sexual harassment is the brigade’s SHARP Ambassador Program.
Recognizing that the most vulnerable population is the junior enlisted personnel in the ranks of private to sergeant, 16th CAB has implemented a three-day course that focuses on bystander intervention, sexual harassment/assault, retaliation, continuum of harm and skill building.
“Soldiers and junior leaders graduate from the program with confidence, knowledge and skills to be force multipliers within their units,” said Taylor. “Not only are they trained on what harmful behaviors look like in their environment and what the negative impacts are, but they are given the tools, skills and strategies to effectively and safely address them.”
Taylor emphasizes that although the Army recognizes April as SAAPM, it is just like any other month on the calendar for the brigade’s SHARP Program.
“SHARP isn't a once-a-year discussion,” said Taylor. “It's an ongoing discussion that everybody needs to be cognizant of because sexual assault and sexual harassment is just one of many harmful behaviors eroding the trust, cohesion and readiness of our units, not to mention society.”