Stuttgart military community gains new sexual assault response capability.

By BALMINA SEHRAMay 15, 2024

Physician Assistant Janet Coy and Licensed Practical Nurse Jessica Faison pose in the SAFE exam room at the U.S. Army Health Clinic on Patch Barracks.
Physician Assistant Janet Coy and Licensed Practical Nurse Jessica Faison pose in the SAFE exam room at the U.S. Army Health Clinic on Patch Barracks. (Photo Credit: Balmina Sehra, USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

STUTTGART, Germany - On September 1st, the Stuttgart military community gained an important new resource for sexual assault response when the U.S. Army Health Clinic Stuttgart officially implemented an in-house medical forensic examination capability.

“Forensic Healthcare Examiners (FHE) are nurses and providers specially trained in Medical Forensic Examination to deliver coordinated, high quality, patient-centered, trauma-informed, medical forensic care for persons reporting sexual assault,” said the clinic’s commander, Lt. Col. Zachary Heinrich. “Our team, in coordination with our higher headquarters, Medical Department Activity Bavaria, has planned, trained, and worked tirelessly over the past several months to bring this critically important component of sexual assault response to the Stuttgart community.”

Local sexual assault forensic exam (SAFE) capabilities have been a long sought after asset by the USAG Stuttgart Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention (SHARP) program. Jessica Green, SHARP program specialist for U.S. Army Europe and Africa, and Andrea Ryan, USAG Stuttgart SHARP Victim Advocate, explained what it means for sexual assault patients. Their remarks have been consolidated and edited for length.

What did the SAFE process look like before it became available in Stuttgart? What is different now?

Before SAFE was accessible at Stuttgart, clients were escorted by SHARP SARC’s or Victim Advocates to either Landstuhl Regional Medical Center near Kaiserslautern or to Ansbach for SAFE. Patients returned to Stuttgart clinic for follow-up care. FHE perform a medical exam, prioritizing the person’s health and wellbeing after a reported physical or sexual assault. An exam can include collection of biological and trace evidence (that may be used in the court of law). Persons can choose to have all or part of the SAFE, as well as have option to choose medical treatment only.

Now, they can go to the Stuttgart Health Clinic, which makes it much quicker for our clients and cuts down on the length of the process. Many of them will find it much more appealing to have the option of visiting a provider they may already be familiar with. Since it’s the patient’s hometown clinic rather than an emergency department, victims can receive care in a calm and more therapeutic environment.

What is the process like?

Individuals reporting sexual assault can either contact their SHARP specialist/Victim Advocate or go directly to the clinic. It’s important to make sure the community is aware that our team will do everything possible to maintain confidentiality, whether it is about completing a SAFE or just wanting to get checked out by a medical provider.

[Editor’s note: click here to learn more about the options of Restricted and Unrestricted reporting for sexual assault].

Is a medical checkup necessary?

We encourage persons reporting to reach out to learn about their options for medical care- whether they want a SAFE or not. Forensic healthcare program care coordinators support patients by scheduling priority level visits with specially trained follow-up healthcare providers during clinic hours. These providers can address many concerns or questions and offer appropriate medications such as emergency contraception, sexually transmitted illness treatment and prevention, as well as referrals to additional services. Ongoing follow-up and support are managed collaboratively by the clinic’s forensic healthcare program care coordinator.

What if someone didn’t seek help within 24 hours of the incident?

We encourage patients or their SHARP representative to reach out anytime to ensure the patient receives information and recommendations for their individual situation and concerns. We guide, they decide. Our goal is to ensure the patient has the information necessary to make the best personal decision for their health. Some medications, for example, emergency contraception, are time sensitive.

What is the biggest takeaway?

The service is available to Service Members, Dependents, GS Civilians, Contractors, and Local Nationals. The sooner people reach out, the better, but it’s also never too late. We encourage contacting the SHARP, FAP (Family Advocacy Program), or the Forensic Healthcare Program at Stuttgart Clinic to learn about options and to get accurate information to make an informed decision.

If you have been affected by sexual assault, please see the information below to learn how you can get in touch with SHARP or the Stuttgart Health Clinic.

24/7 SHARP Hotline for Stuttgart: +49 (0)172-868-6019

Europe SHARP Hotline: +49 (0) 611-143-537-4277 (From DSN lines, 314-537-4277)

The Telephone Helpline staff can directly transfer you to your nearest Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARC), Victim Advocate (VA), Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) Coordinator, Military OneSource, Psychological Health Center of Excellence, and civilian sexual assault service provider. To chat with the helpline staff online go to