JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – The Regional Health Command-Pacific command team signed a proclamation declaring April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month throughout the command during a ceremony here April 5.
Brig. Gen. Edward H. “Ned” Bailey, commanding general of RHC-P, and Sgt. Maj. Ryan Cole, the command’s acting command sergeant major, affixed their signatures to the proclamation, part of the Department of Defense’s effort to eliminate sexual assault and sexual harassment from the United States’ armed forces.
The proclamation stated that all service members have a responsibility to combat sexual assault and sexual harassment, and it’s everyone’s duty to build, encourage, and sustain trusting relationships that promote a culture committed to upholding and living the Warrior Ethos.
“There's no place in our Army for sexual harassment and assault, domestic violence, or other harmful behaviors that inhibit readiness,” Bailey said.
This year’s theme is, "Prevention Starts With You,” and builds on the concept of upholding what it means to be a member of an Army team.
The theme stresses that the only person responsible for committing the acts of sexual assault and sexual harassment is the perpetrator. However, all members of the team have the ability to look out for each other’s safety.
The RHC-P command team encouraged every person to speak out when witnessing acts of sexual violence, and to report inappropriate behavior to their chain of command or Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention staff.
“Be a proactive bystander,” Cole said. “Take action if you notice someone needs help.”
April has been commemorated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month for more than 20 years, according to Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Guerrero, RHC-P’s SHARP program manager.
“The annual focus was first recognized as a campaign in 2001 by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center,” she said. “In 2009, President Barack Obama made the first official proclamation that April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month for both civilian and military communities.”
Guerrero, a combat medic, has been RHC-P’s SHARP manager since last November, and a victim advocate since 2018.
RHC-P, headquartered at JBLM and Honolulu, is the most geographically-dispersed command in Army Medicine, stretching more than 5,000 miles and five time zones across the Pacific. The command oversees Army medical treatment facilities and units in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Hawaii, Japan and South Korea.
Despite the region’s size, its SHARP program has plenty of staff available to assist those in need.
Guerrero said the region has seven sexual assault response coordinators and 62 trained victim advocates.
“RHC-P SHARP personnel are available to assist victims of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault,” Guerrero said. “SARCs and VAs provide assistance with sexual harassment complaints and sexual assault reports, prevention and response efforts, and victim advocacy.”
Additionally, the Department of Defense Safe Helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is anonymous, confidential, and secure, Guerrero said. Staff members will listen to concerns, discuss safety planning, provide information about resources and, if necessary, connect those in need with local resources, such as a SARC or VA.
Need help? Reach the DOD Safe Helpline at:
For those unable to call toll-free or DSN: 202-540-5962