FORT STEWART, Ga.– Army Directive 2022-13, which was signed in September of this year, took effect Oct. 1, 2022. This comes on the heels of the conclusion of an independent investigation into Fort Hood and its Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention program.
This directive is one of a series whose purpose is to make SHARP reporting easier by streamlining reporting services. It allows the first colonel in the chain of command to issue military protective orders to protect the complainant from the subject and retaliation from peers. It now requires that investigating officers of incidents be from outside the brigade to ensure transparency and to keep commanding officers from appearing to protect the subject. It also formalizes publications of the results from uniform code of military justice actions to build faith in the reporting and accountability processes.
“This directive, coming from such a high level, shows commands the seriousness of this issue,” said Robert Lewis, 3rd Infantry Division SHARP program manager. “Once commands build confidence in a process, that will trickle down, and the Soldiers will feel more comfortable with that process.”
The hope is that Soldiers who are affected by sexual assault and sexual harassment will feel more confident in reporting to their commands. Sexual harassment and sexual assault threatens the integrity, vitality, and mission readiness of the Army. When these acts occur, they are not only a direct violation of the Army’s core values and warrior ethos, but also an assault on what it means to serve in the profession of arms and the Army way of life— a life in which it is every Soldier’s duty to protect and take care of each other no matter the time, place, or circumstance.
“Sexual harassment, assault, and retaliation have no place in our Army,” said Gen. James C. McConville, Chief of Staff of the Army, during the September 2020 Virtual Maneuver Warfighter Conference. “We are all charged with setting conditions that enforce Army standards to prevent sexual offenses and with with reporting them when they occur—protecting our people protects our mission.”
SHARP operates in multi-pronged capacity as both a reporting agency and a prevention program. It provides training to spread awareness as well as information on services for those affected.
“Overall, SHARP helps keep our Army from eroding from the inside,” Lewis said.
This allows the Army to provide service members, families, and civilians with an opportunity to report cases of sexual assault or sexual harassment and connect them with the appropriate services whether that be law enforcement and legal services, medical treatment, or behavioral health. It also gives SHARP representatives opportunities to educate others about situations to avoid and signs of possible incidents.
Lewis added that the creation of Connect to Care, which is also referred to as the no-wrong-door approach, was another result of the Fort Hood investigation. It gives someone who has been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed the ability to report the incident to any SHARP, Family Advocacy Program, Equal Opportunity, or Inspector General representatives, and all of these organizations will work together to resolve this issue.
“Sexual assault and sexual harassment violate everything we stand for as Soldiers,” McConville also said during the conference. “It is our responsibility as one Army to take care of one another and not tolerate these violations.”
Across the Army, every member of the Army family is urged to step up by demonstrating behaviors and attitudes that impact change. Leaders have the additional responsibility of ensuring a positive command climate by setting the tone for social and duty relationships.