3rd Combat Aviation Brigade Observes Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
Staff Sgt. Taylor Pruss, victim advocate for the 603 Aviation Support Battalion, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, and 1st Lt. Aniko Austin, victim advocate for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd CAB, 3rd ID, set up displays for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month at Hunter Army Airfield, April 1, 2022. The Department of Defense observes SAAPM every April by focusing on eliminating sexual assault from the ranks. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Caitlin Wilkins) (Photo Credit: Spc. Caitlin Wilkins) VIEW ORIGINAL

HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, GA – The 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, began their observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month by setting up displays and hosting a Joint Collaboration Agency Panel to answer Soldier’s questions about the Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention program.

The Department of Defense observes SAAPM every April by focusing on eliminating sexual assault from the ranks.

“SAAPM is an annual observance recognized by civilian and military communities that spreads awareness about the prevention of sexual assault,” said Sgt. 1st Class Celestina Dunn, the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division’s sexual assault response coordinator. “We try to provide Soldiers with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to intervene in a situation and prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault.”

The JCAP is one of the many ways the brigade observes SAAPM. Soldiers are encouraged to attend the panel and ask any questions they have about the process.

“The JCAP is a panel that includes the Savannah Police Department, Special Victims Council services, Mary’s Place Advocacy Prevention and Sexual Assault Center of the Coastal Empire and the Winn Army Community Hospital’s Sexual Assault Medical Director and Program Manager,” said Dunn. “Soldiers here can ask questions about the process and the role each organization has in a sexual assault case. Soldiers don’t always get to see the whole process from start to finish so this gives them that insight.”

3rd Combat Aviation Brigade Observes Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
A 3rd Infantry Division Soldier asks a question about the Army’s Sexual Harassment Assault and Response Prevention program during a Joint Collaboration Agency Panel at Hunter Army Airfield, April 4, 2022. The panel included the Savannah Police Department, Special Victims Council services, Mary’s Place Advocacy Prevention and Sexual Assault Center of the Coastal Empire and a Winn Community Army Hospital’s Sexual Assault Medical Director and Program Manager answering questions Soldiers have about the process of a sexual assault case and how outside agencies may be involved. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Caitlin Wilkins) (Photo Credit: Spc. Caitlin Wilkins) VIEW ORIGINAL

In addition to the JCAP, Soldiers can participate in a virtual 5K run and the clothesline project.

“We’re doing a virtual 5K run April 18-22 and the three fastest times will get a Certificate of Appreciation, commander’s coin, and a goody bag,” said Dunn. “We also have the clothesline project where Soldiers will have the opportunity to write inspirational messages, or what SAAPM means to them on paper cutouts in the shape of a T-shirt.”

Soldiers are also encouraged to wear teal items on April 12 for Teal Day.

“Teal is the official color of the SHARP program, so wearing teal shows your support for the survivors and the sexual assault program,” said Dunn. “You can wear anything, it could be a bracelet or a pen, it doesn't have to be anything big.”

In addition to Teal Day, Soldiers are authorized to wear denim on April 27 for Denim Day.

“Denim Day is also an important part of SAAPM,” said Dunn. “Many people think once you give consent that’s it, but you can give consent and then change your mind at any time.”

Denim Day originated in 1997 in Italy when an 18-year-old girl was raped by her 45-year-old driving instructor. The Head Judge of the Italian Supreme Court released a statement arguing that because she wore tight jeans, she would’ve had to help him take them off, therefore consented. Women in the Italian Parliament were enraged by this statement and protested by wearing jeans on the steps of the Italian Parliament building.

“Every April 27, we wear jeans because our clothes don’t give consent, we give consent,” Dunn explained.

3rd Combat Aviation Brigade Observes Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
Soldiers from the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, set up displays for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, April 1, 2022. The Department of Defense observes SAAPM every April by focusing on eliminating sexual assault from the ranks. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Caitlin Wilkins) (Photo Credit: Spc. Caitlin Wilkins) VIEW ORIGINAL

This year’s theme of ‘Prevention Starts With You’ comes as Soldiers learn about changes to the SHARP program and how they can make a difference.

“It’s really important that everyone is aware of the changes so they can make informed decisions about what path might be right for them,” said 1st Lt. Aniko Austin, 3rd CAB Headquarters and Headquarters Company victim advocate. “One of the big changes is reporting options. Previously, if someone confided in a friend or battle buddy about an incident and that friend reported it to the chain of command or CID, that would’ve made it an unrestricted report. Now with the changes, the individual gets to keep their reporting options regardless if their chain of command knows or not. Unless that individual goes to CID themself or puts in an unrestricted report, they get to keep their options.”

Soldiers aren’t the only ones who can receive help from the Army SHARP program. Family members over the age of 18 are eligible to make a report with a victim advocate.

“It isn’t widely known that family members over the age of 18 can actually come and make reports with your SHARP team,” said Dunn. “Anyone who is under 18 will report with the Family Advocacy Program, but if they are in our formation and they need services, we won’t ever turn them away. We will always provide care and guide them to the services they need.”

For the 3rd CAB SHARP team, creating a positive environment where anyone can feel comfortable making a report is their top priority.

3rd Combat Aviation Brigade Observes Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
Staff Sgt. Stephanie Mack, victim advocate for 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, and Sgt. Ardia Johnson, Marne Air Advisory Board and Marne Guardian Program liaison, place pinwheels representing the fiscal year 2022 survivors of sexual assault as part of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month at Hunter Army Airfield, April 1, 2022. The Department of Defense observes SAAPM every April by focusing on eliminating sexual assault from the ranks. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Caitlin Wilkins) (Photo Credit: Spc. Caitlin Wilkins) VIEW ORIGINAL

“Creating a positive, safe environment for people to feel like they can report, and somebody is going to believe them is important,” said Staff Sgt. Stephanie Mack, the 3rd CAB victim advocate. “We have a really good team here and I feel we are providing the safest space possible.”

Anyone with questions or concerns regarding SHARP is encouraged to call the 3rd CAB SHARP hotline (912) 255-2163 or the 3rd ID SHARP hotline (912) 271-9958.