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Army SHARP/SAPR’s awareness creates a safe culture at JBLE

Image of teal ribbon against soldier's uniform. The teal ribbon is a national symbol of support for victims of sexual assault, and is used by the Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Program, and its Air Force counterpart, the Sexual Assault and Prevention Response (SAPR) Program at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia in Sept. The SHARP and SAPR teams at JBLE conduct training to spread awareness about one of the most sensitive issues within the military, and provide recovery support for victims of sexual assault. (Illustration by AIR Force Staff Sgt. Don Hudson.)

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As social distancing remains the new normal, online training is becoming a vital tool for many organizations.

The Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP program, and its Air Force counterpart, the Sexual Assault and Prevention Response or SAPR program, developed new solutions to spread awareness about one of the most sensitive issues within the military.

Implementing Department of Defense (DOD), Army, and Air Force zero-tolerance policies regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault, the SHARP and SAPR teams work to provide a culture of support and safety for all at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.

With assistance from the Ft. Eustis SHARP office, Army Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Johnson, 597th Transportation Brigade sexual assault response coordinator, has worked with his team to bring innovative live online training events to JBLE. The online trainings have featured an advocate poet, guest speakers, and an audience participation theater group, Pure Praxis.

“SHARP training is conducted face-to-face primarily, and in small groups,” said Johnson. “Because of COVID-19 restrictions, this could not be accomplished. We were innovative in our approach to keep the program and its importance at the forefront by creating virtual training opportunities.”

Each of the online trainings conducted by the Fort Eustis SHARP team were open to all soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines on the installation, and each session brought in over 200 viewers. The trainings focused on proactive approaches to sexual harassment and assault prevention and gave viewers knowledge for identifying actions and trends that can lead to a corrosive and unsafe culture.

To overcome the challenges of social distancing, the SAPR team on Langley Air Force Base has been providing four trainings a month to Air Force personnel via virtual classrooms and, upon request, face-to-face training for units that can provide a safe social distancing environment.

The SHARP and SAPR teams use various programs to bring learning platforms to all levels within the DOD. Trainings include realistic skits, group scenarios, exercises, case studies, surveys, and data from incidents to provide troops and civilian employees at JBLE with the practical knowledge and understanding needed to create a positive culture within their own units and work sections.

While teaching awareness is an important role of the SHARP and SAPR teams, their top priority is to provide a one-stop place for victims who seek answers, resources, and support from a community of people dedicated to help in reporting and recovery.

“Due to COVID, we were unable to hold our regular awareness events for Sexual Assault Prevention Month in April,” said Scottie Hampton, SAPR victim advocate. “But we are able to continue providing care for anyone in need with electronic reporting, telehealth counseling, and face-to-face when requested.”

The SHARP and SAPR teams provide 24/7 access to reporting and recovery services and resources. Working on the front lines of these services are the victim advocates like Hampton, and Sexual Assault Response Coordinators like Johnson, and dedicated volunteers who train JBLE team members on sexual assault prevention and reporting practices, and help survivors through the reporting and recovery process.

For more information, please visit the SHARP webpage, the SAPR webpage, or the JBLE SAPR page on Facebook.

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