CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - The 1st Theater Sustainment Command held its second annual Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Summit at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, April 29. More than 40 sexual assault response coordinators, victim advocates, and SHARP ambassadors gathered for a one-day summit to share insights and best practices to improve the SHARP program.
The Summit featured a lineup of esteemed presenters, including representatives and subject matter experts from the Army Criminal Investigation Division, 1st TSC Staff Judge Advocate, U.S. Army Central Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program, and the 160th Theater Signal Brigade Behavioral Health Office.
“You are first responders,” emphasized Maj. Gen. Michel M. Russell Sr., commanding general of the 1st TSC, as he welcomed the SHARP professionals. He highlighted their significance and stressed that the Summit's objective was to equip them with the necessary tools to carry out the job they willingly signed up for.
“We need to hear from you. You are the priority today and you have our undivided attention," Russell stressed. "Our mission is to eradicate sexual harassment and assault every single day and we are fiercely committed to creating a safe and inclusive environment where everyone can thrive."
Accompanying Russell were Command Sgt. Maj. Albert E. Richardson Jr., senior enlisted advisor of the 1st TSC, Brig. Gen. Maria Juarez, deputy commanding general of the 1st TSC, and Command Sgt. Maj. Ricardo Saunders, senior enlisted advisor of the 143d Expeditionary Sustainment Command.
Richardson emphasized the importance of asking especially tough questions. He encouraged everyone to speak up and not hesitate to seek clarification.
"There [may be] weak areas in the program that can be stronger. Tell us what those are so we can help make the necessary changes," said Juarez.
Throughout the day, attendees participated in various discussions, covering topics such as victim advocacy, prevention strategies, reporting procedures, and maintaining a safe and supportive environment for 1st TSC Soldiers throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
During the ambassador dialogue session, attendees were given a unique chance to listen to firsthand accounts of a Soldiers’ experience in theater from Pfc. Kelvin Mark and Sgt. Mai Vue with the 101st Human Resources Company, Sgt. Jessy Granillo with the 595th Transportation Brigade, and Staff Sgt. Eric Foust with the 3rd Medical Brigade, who completed the SHARP Ambassador program.
The program trains and certifies E1-E4 Soldiers to serve as the first line of defense against SHARP incidents. SHARP Ambassadors work closely with VAs, SARCs, and commanders to increase awareness, intervene, and prevent sexual harassment and assault in military organizations. Additionally, they offer valuable insights into the organizational climate and culture.
During the discussion, Russell inquired with the Soldiers how to best promote the SHARP Ambassador program. In response, Mark proposed introducing SHARP Ambassadors during SHARP training and making the training more Soldier-led with SARCs being present to offer explanations and guidance.
Russell further asked for advice on how to promote the program specifically to Soldiers who are 18-21 years old. "Social media is huge. That's what my generation communicates with,” Mark explained. “You can introduce the SHARP Ambassador program by creating light but informative videos on social media.”
Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, the Summit was an uplifting and empowering experience for all involved. Attendees left with a renewed sense of purpose and a deeper understanding of their role as SHARP professionals in creating a culture of respect, dignity, and safety within the Army community.
Those in attendance reflected on the day's events and looked toward a future where sexual assault and harassment are no longer tolerated or accepted in any capacity. With the knowledge and tools gained from the Summit, they were ready to make a difference, one Soldier at a time.