My Army Career started as a junior in High School in 1983 till 1989, with the Field Artillery out of Glasgow Ky. In the ‘80s SHARP programs were not present and harassment on Military installations and off post were very high. At that time, it was “A man’s Army” and many jokes about gays and women in the force were normal. I rejoined After 18 years break in service, with the same unit out of Glasgow Ky. My return in 2007 seen huge changes with a new program called SHARP. The Army was and is adapting to changing environments and what we considered “acceptable” in the past have transitioned out of the new Army. Sexual assault prevalence in the Army rose for women from 4.4 percent in 2016 to 5.8 percent in 2018 and reporting rates have quadrupled over the past decade, the Pentagon stated that the 2018 reporting rate was roughly on par with the 2016 rate. The Army will not tolerate Sexual Harassment and Assault, and the Army is and will be working hard on a culture of dignity and respect. Leaders should do what is right and teach and lead the younger Soldiers.
Sexual Harassment/Sexual Assault response program (SHARP) created and implemented in 2006 to end sexual harassment and sexual assault within all ranks. Department of Defense (DOD) as, intentional sexual contact characterized by using force, threats, intimidation, or abuse of authority or when the victim does not or cannot consent. DOD defines sexual harassment as a form of sex, discrimination that involves unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal and physical conduct of sexual nature. In the fiscal year 2018, 0.7 percent of Male Soldiers on active duty reported sexual assault compared to 6.2 percent of Female Soldiers. In 2016 only 1 out of 14 reported sexual assault while in 2018 the numbers were 1 out of 3 which shows more Soldiers are coming forward. Male Soldiers on active duty indicated 6.3 present were Sexual Harassed with 24.2 percent of Female active-duty soldiers. Army values and Servant leadership and encouraging Soldiers to do what is right and protect and defend. The army culture has changed and will change and requires dignity and respect for all.
The culture of the Army has changed from the past, is changing with the present and will continue to change in the future, due to people of all levels of society joining the army. First let us start with the past. Soldiers were scared to make a report due to retaliation and not having a program in place at that time. I remember while being a young Soldier in the ’80s, of harassment from my Sgt in the Commo section of 1/623 fa out of Glasgow, Ky. He would toss drinks on me, make me run behind a gamma goat (old military vehicle). Would curse me and make racial slurs of me being white. I never reported this Soldier, however leadership soon saw this and moved me to another section. I still think about this toxic leadership and what this induvial inflicted on me and will never forget this person. Harassment was out of control due to not having any type of harassment programs like we have today with SHARP.
The culture has also changed, in 1982 the Military had 17000 soldiers removed or left the for having a ban on Gays. 1993 showed the birth of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Gay Soldiers had to take a conservative view about serving openly in the military and were victims of harassment. The Military culture changed again in 2010 with the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ More changes occurred in 2013 when the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and recognition of same-sex marriages and would extend spousal and family benefits for same-sex marriages. Another thing I would like to bring up is the culture of the younger soldiers. I attended SLC at Fort Gordon, and it was disturbing Seeing AIT students with very little clothing. Is AIT starting to act and move more towards a college environment? It makes me wonder if more assaults and harassments occur once drinking is involved. This is where leadership needs to take control and speak about values, respect, appearance, and language in-which will write about in the next chapter of dignity.
As a leader we play a crucial role for bringing out the best of people. Dr Donna Hicks book on 10 Essential Elements of Dignity has some great points, I will go over a few of the ten elements. The first is Acknowledgment. Receiving this validation helps the person open to healing. Physical safety is another element in which people remain “terrified” to speak the truth about their experience. Understanding is another one and is also part of active listening, as we need to listen to our Soldiers so to understand them while helping the healing process. The last one I will write about is accountability, if your actions violated the dignity of another person, apologize; and commit to hurtful behaviors and help others. Dr. Hicks also talks about self-preservation instincts that hinder dignity, one is allowing the bad behavior of people getting mad and getting even.
She talks about Gossiping about what might have happened to a person in a negative way, this would hurt that person and others might not report harassment due to the harassment if reported. Any Soldier’s may approach me no matter of rank place or time, while expressing themselves without any fear of negativity, or being judge. Being a leader, I will lead them in the right direction, get them the help that needed, and be with them no mater of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability. We are leaders, we are Soldiers and brothers and sisters of the Army and help anyone in need.
Sexual harassment and assault in the Army are real, and the DOD has addressed, while trying to combat this situation. This is my 19th year, and have seen lots thru the years, my job is to help Soldiers even if not being an expert in the field of SHARP. I think SHARP is a good thing, however we also need to have respect for ourselves as well as others. Many Soldiers will not pay attention during SHARP briefs and make silly comments, we need to find a way to educate more and get this Soldiers on board or get them out of the Military. I know the Army is working hard on a culture of dignity and respect, and will need to work much harder in the future as people and society changes. We also need to help the Army and change ourselves so to give loyalty, duty, selfless service, honor, integrity personal courage and respect to create and support an environment of dignity and continuous culture change
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