Fort Hood’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program is working to create a resource center in an attempt to synchronize and professionalize victim advocacy services.
The concept is based off a center opened at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., said Lt. Col. Ricardo Bravo, Fort Hood’s SHARP program director.
“They brought various agencies together under one roof to improve working relations,” he said.
Aside from SHARP representatives, the center will incorporate legal, law and medical personnel to help victims who report sexual assaults under unrestricted conditions.
“When the headquarters of the Department of the Army heard about (Lewis-McChord) ... they thought it was a great idea and would like to see if other installations can benefit from this,” Bravo said.
With the exception of the hospital, Bravo said all necessary agencies are within walking distance of each other, whereas the center will bring them all together.
Ready by February
A building at Fort Hood has been identified and plans are underway with the Directorate of Public Works to conduct necessary renovations to have it up and running by Feb. 1, Bravo said.
For victims who wish to report an assault as restricted — meaning they only want treatment, and no charges brought against their perpetrator — there will need to be a private entrance with only SHARP personnel inside, he added.
The Army intends to launch 11 pilot SHARP Resource Centers within the coming months based on the Lewis-McChord model.
Lt. Col. Geoff Catlett, with the Army human resources office, expressed the Army’s excitement about the new model of response systems in a news release.
“If we, in any way, shape or form, fail people who are dealing with this experience, we are failing as leaders across the Army. We just can’t accept that,” he said. “You can’t legislate your way out of this problem; you can’t regulate your way out of this problem; you can only lead your way out of this problem.”
Since 2012, Fort Hood’s SHARP program has undergone many changes, including moving from an equal opportunity program with only seven individuals on post trained to receive a sexual assault report. Now there are 65 SHARP representatives across post and 750 victim advocates.
Reports on the rise
Officials attribute this increase in resources to the increase in assault reports.
So far this fiscal year, 142 incidents have been reported to SHARP at Fort Hood. There were 189 reported in fiscal 2013 and 100 the year before.
“Soldiers are coming forward for reporting sexual assaults and sexual harassment from the past — it’s not necessarily that it happened here — but because of the positive command climate, culture change and awareness,” Bravo said.
Sgt. 1st Class Matt O’Dell, the noncommissioned officer in charge of Fort Hood’s SHARP, said “it brings validity to the program that soldiers feel comfortable.”
The resource center will continue to improve soldiers’ trust, he added.
“I like the idea of the resource center,” O’Dell said. “It will make (our representative’s) jobs a little easier to help the survivor. It’s easier on the survivor as well, because once they come to us, it can be a lengthy process. The travel time factors into it.”
Other installations starting pilot resource center include Fort Campbell, Ky.; Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; and Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. At that point, an assessment of effectiveness and recommendations for additional implementation will be presented to the chief of staff of the Army.
“What we’re trying to do is put the systems in place and provide the tools to commanders, in order to change the culture and create an Army where everyone is treated with dignity and respect,” Catlett said. “If the Army can’t do it, then nobody can do it.”
For more information about the Army SHARP Program, go to www.preventsexualassault.army.mil.
Army News Service contributed to this report.