FORT LEE, Va. – More than 2,000 Soldiers and DOD Civilians have puzzle-solved their way to greater sexual assault prevention awareness since the opening of a new Combined Arms Support Command training facility here last July.
The SHARP – Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention – Challenge and Education Center uses problem-solving scenarios comparable to escape room live-action attractions in the civilian sector. Participating teams solve clues to complete the training successfully. Facilitators certified as SHARP victim advocates or sexual assaults response coordinators provide prompts and helpful hints.
This style of training has proven to be “far more effective” than the PowerPoint-heavy presentations of the past, according to Sgt. First Class Maureen Martin, CASCOM/ Fort Lee lead sexual assault response coordinator. The installation itself has seen a decrease in sexual misconduct incidents this fiscal year, making it highly likely that these innovative approaches to awareness and education are making a difference.
The purpose of the CEC is to “change the culture and establish new norms with the goal of eliminating sexual harassment and assault within our community,” Martin said. With a successful first year in operation, the SHARP team excitedly anticipates what the future holds for the CEC.
“Clearly, we’re hoping it will continue to play an important role for more Soldiers and DoD Civilians to utilize the training facility and become more educated on early warning signs of sexual assault/harassment,” Martin confirmed.
The April observance of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month – centered on the motto, “Prevention Starts with You” – has been well-recognized across Fort Lee, with organizations conducting group listening sessions, teambuilding sports competitions, poster contests and more. A 23rd Quartermaster Brigade unit held a talent show, and the garrison organized a SHARP Extravaganza awareness carnival attended by well over 200 advanced individual training students and others.
There will be no mothballing of ideas until next year’s observance either. Martin excitedly discussed the planned May 1 rollout of Operation Prevention, a new initiative focused on educating Soldiers and DOD Civilians to identify concerning behaviors and take action to prevent sexual assault/ sexual harassment before it happens.
“It will establish positive norms where Soldiers and DOD Civilians will be energized and driven by personal values and commitment to prevention,” Martin said. “We want to engage our community as a whole to maintain those new norms.”
Based on the success of the Challenge and Education Center and the many recent SAAPM activities here, it can be safely stated that the CASCOM and Fort Lee SHARP team is leading the way in how Soldiers and DOD Civilians learn about sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention.
In Martin’s opinion, it all comes down to how the two programs support one another and demonstrate high levels of enthusiasm fueled by the unshakeable belief that everything they accomplish could prevent that next sexual assault or misconduct incident.
“It pretty much has to be personal for us because that’s what will help us shape that culture of trust and mutual respect of all individuals within our ranks and community.”
The CEC facility is available for training Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. For more information, contact Martin at 804-734-6498 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Click the following link to read more about the facility and what it offers, www.army.mil/article/248513.