Members of the U.S. Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll Command team met at USAG-KA command headquarters April 2, 2022, for the signing of a proclamation in honor of the Army’s April observance for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
“I appreciate you all being here to witness the signing of this proclamation today,” said USAG-KA Commander Col. Tom Pugsley to those gathered. “On USAG-KA, we take harassment and assault issues seriously, and we value the opportunity to help foster and create a safe environment for the entire garrison community.”
The signing kicked off a month-long series of SAAPM events for the community coordinated with assistance from USAG-KA Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention advocate Sgt. 1st Class Effie Banks.
On April 6, USAG-KA personnel competed against U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Three, Detail Marshall Islands, in a friendly game of kickball. After the game, USAG-KA Commander Tom Pugsley addressed the team members to remind them to deter the unwanted and abusive behaviors that have no place in the Department of Defense community.
Community members had the opportunity to meet with assault and harassment prevention advocates for information and educational training opportunities at an AAFES SHARP tent in the Kwajalein downtown area. Joining Banks on April 16 were Handy Niro and Bwojenta Kabua, members of the Ebeye chapter of Women United Together Marshall Islands, and U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Three, Detail Marshall Islands Sexual Assault Prevention Response representative Petty Officer 2nd Class Jessica Hermeling. Together, the teammates shared program information with community members from Kwajalein and Ebeye.
“Anyone, anytime, anywhere can be targeted by sexual assault and harassment,” said Banks. “We in the Marshall Islands have a dynamic community. It is our goal to involve everyone in the solution for sexual violence and to support and protect those who have been victims.”
Banks delivered a special presentation for students at Kwajalein High School to introduce the young audience to SHARP program concepts and helpful resources during the following week.
On April 20, wearing teal, the official color of SAAPM Month, diners in the community joined the USAG-KA command team at the Capt. Louis S. Zamperini Cafeteria for a special awareness-themed “Teal Meal” including a cake-cutting ceremony.
Though the awareness theme activities culminate in April, vigilance and action can help communities preserve and maintain a healthy environment for all members.
Banks encourages the community to take an active role in providing a supportive environment, and to watch for troubling behavior that could lead to a SHARP incident.
One SHARP motto is a phrase that USAG-KA takes to heart, Banks said.
“The USAG-KA command team and the SHARP program fully support the statement ‘I am,’ which means ‘Intervene, Act, Motivate.’ ... It takes 45 seconds to intervene in an incident that could otherwise result in a lifetime of pain.”