By Sgt. Robert Schaffner Jr., 3rd ID Public AffairsApril 28, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - The relentless effort of one Marne Soldier to eliminate sexual assault and ensure victims receive the best possible care was recognized during a ceremony at The Pentagon, April 15.
During the awards ceremony, the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness), Dr. Clifford L. Stanley, presented the 2011 Exceptional Sexual Assault Response Coordinator of the Year Award to Sgt. 1st Class Bryan K. Harrison, an Equal Opportunity Advisor with the 3rd Infantry Division, for his efforts while deployed to Iraq.
Before the awards ceremony, Sgt. 1st Class Harrison and four other service winners sat down with senior leaders in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense to discuss sexual assault prevention and the issue of reporting the offense.
"The meeting went very well," Sgt. 1st Class Harrison said. "They were particularly interested to know what was happening in the field and what they could to do help." His commitment to ensure all Soldiers are successful is the driving force to his own success, he said.
"I enjoy taking care of the Soldiers," Sgt. 1st Class Harrison said. "It is important to me that Soldiers can live up to their full potential, free of any bias, so they can be the best person they can be."
Sexual assault is a rapidly growing violent crime, and Sgt. 1st Class Harrison reflected on one particular incident where his skills were quickly put to the test, and he was able to help a Soldier - thanks to his training.
"It wasn't 48 hours [upon arriving in Iraq] and the out-going unit we were replacing was faced with an incident," Sgt. 1st Class Harrison said. "I did what I was trained to do. [It was] like muscle memory, like firing your weapon."
"Sexual Assault Response Coordinators are critical in providing the necessary systematic support for victims of Sexual Assault," said Lt. Col. Shatrece Buchanan, the 3rd ID EO officer in charge. "Systematic leadership involves a thorough knowledge base of providing information to victims to care for them and to help them on the road of recovery."
"Sergeant First Class Harrison's initiative and quiet wisdom helped our team succeed in theater," Lt. Col. Buchanan said. "He not only organized the curriculum, but he helped develop the Sexual Assault Program and its framework."
Despite all formal recognition Sgt. 1st Class Harrison has received, his modesty remains fully intact. "I was just doing the best job I could do in the position I was in," he said. "I had a lot of help down range. So much went right in the training phase that, when something went wrong, everyone knew what to do."
On the same day that Sgt. 1 Class Harrison received his award, DoD officials launched the new DoD Safe Helpline. The DoD Safe Helpline provides confidential, live one-on-one help and support worldwide 24 hours a day, every day, to aid victims of sexual assault within the DoD community. Sergeant First Class Harrison believes that the new hotline will increase reporting of sexual assault.
The new hotline information is 877-995-5247 or visit www.safehelpline.org.