Today’s blog post is from Dr. Christine Altendorf, director, U.S. Army Sexual Harassment Assault Response Prevention (SHARP) Program.
The HQDA SHARP office continues to push forward on initiatives that hopefully are helping you combat sexual harassment/assault.
March was an extremely busy month. The CSA held his advisory panel on March 18 which consisted of 10 SARCs, VAs and Survivors who shared their thoughts and opinions and gave suggestions on how to improve the program. The CSA does not take these sessions lightly and several actions have stemmed from the past two panels.
We had our first graduation of the 8-week comprehensive SHARP course on March 21. The CSA held a session prior to graduation to gather feedback on the course so we could incorporate suggestions and changes into our follow-on classes. We will have four additional courses this FY that will train BDE SARCs ,VAs and trainers. The BN and below collateral duty personnel will still receive their credentialing through the 80-hour decentralized SHARP course.
On March 28, the SecArmy, CSA, SMA and other Senior Leaders kicked off Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) at the Pentagon. Each gave motivating speeches that once again reiterated the importance of eliminating sexual assault in the Army and the priority that this is to all of them. We were also able to recognize the Army SARC of the Year – MSG Richard Fry from USAREUR. His professionalism, personal commitment, and dedication to duty are contributing to the success of the SHARP Program in Europe. I know most of you held your own SAAM events throughout April and I do believe that from your efforts we are making a difference. I was able to participate in several at various locations including Ft. Meade, Ft. Buchanan, Ft. Myer, APG, JIEDDO and TRADOC. The work to combat sexual assault/harassment and awareness initiatives you are implementing are quite impressive. It’s very rewarding to see the impact that you are having.
March and April were also full of Congressional hearings and visits. Needless to say, sexual assault in the military is high on Members’ radars and we continue to educate and inform them of our progress. Although SEN Gillibrand’s bill did not pass to pull disposition from the Commanders, she has indicated in many press releases that she will continue to push.
DOD SAPRO will release the 2013 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military this week. There were 2,149 sexual assault cases reported in the Army in FY13 (1831 unrestricted, 318 restricted). Of those reports, 55% were penetrative offensives, with 45% being contact offensive. The number of reports was 51% higher than FY12. We believe this unprecedented increase in reports is due to a growing level of confidence in our response system and a sign that victims have increased confidence in their Army leaders and in the Army’s commitment to care for and protect them.
DOD SAPRO will also be releasing the 2014-2016 Prevention Strategy soon. We have been working closely with them and the other Services on this document, which provides authoritative guidance on delivering consistent and effective prevention methods and programs. We will receive a directive from the SecDef that requires us to implement several measures (many of which we are already doing) that further the prevention of sexual assault.
Also, the updated Army SHARP Campaign Plan will be published soon. It aligns with the DOD SAPRO Strategy Plan and is a living document. Much of the information should not be new to you, but it clearly lays out how we function according to the five lines of effort–prevention, investigation, accountability, advocacy and assessment.
Finally, we are halfway through the fiscal year, and we will submit a progress report to the President in December. This report will fully depend on DSAID to produce accurate statistics. My team started distributing Quality Control (QC) reports to installation Lead SARCs in February. We are already seeing improvements in the Army’s data, and I encourage everyone to continue your efforts to work through the QC reports and ensure we enter data correctly from the beginning. The accuracy of this data is not just important for the progress report, but to your commanders as well. ACOM/ASCC/DRU Program Managers should have received the first of a monthly Case Level Report produced from the data in DSAID, but these reports are only as accurate as the data inputted. Please help us have the most accurate data we can in our system of record.
Further addressing data accuracy, I recently directed DSAID access to Brigade-level SARCs to manage their own cases for more accurate and complete data. Our initial goal was to complete the expansion of Brigade-level access by 31 March. Currently just a bit more than half of the Army’s authorized Brigade-level SARCs have completed all the requirements for access to DSAID.
I realize that we are all busy, but I ask that you work with my team to ensure all your Brigade SARCs get accounts as soon as possible.