Spc. Brittany Jones was carefree and happy. A single act changed her life forever.

“I felt disgusting, dirty and suicidal. I didn’t feel like I was worthy of anything,” said Jones, 23, who was raped by a friend’s husband when she was stationed at Fort Stewart, Ga., in 2009. “I didn’t feel like I had anything to live for.”

Jones was stationed at Fort Hood in 2010 and joined the Warrior Transition Brigade in May, where she learned through counseling that she wasn’t alone.

Since October, more than 100 soldiers used Fort Hood’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program after it transitioned from an installation to a command program, said Lt. Col. Jacqueline Davis, SHARP program manager. Not all of the incidents reported occurred during that time frame or even at Fort Hood.

Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Scott C. Schroeder, III Corps, signed a proclamation to eliminate sexual assault April 9 in the III Corps Headquarters building as part of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

“(Sexual assault) is a terrible, horrible injustice,” Milley said. “It’s an incredible crime of violence, an incredible crime of exploitation and an incredible crime of humiliation that has no place in our society.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said this month is an opportunity for the entire Defense Department community to underscore its commitment to eliminating sexual assault, supporting victims and intervening when appropriate to help stop unsafe behavior.

“We must work every day to instill a climate that does not tolerate or ignore sexist behavior, sexual harassment or sexual assault. These have no place in the U.S. military and violate everything we stand for and the values we defend,” Hagel said in a news release. “Creating a culture free of the scourge of sexual assault requires establishing an environment where dignity and respect is afforded to all, and where diversity is celebrated as one of our greatest assets as a force.”

Jones encourages sexually assaulted soldiers to seek help so they’re not stuck in a state of emotional pain like she was for three years.

Although she’ll always live with the image of rape in the back of her mind, the coping techniques she learned through therapy helps.

“I can deal with the daily stuff a lot better and I know now that not everybody’s out to get me,” she said. “Some days it’s better; other days it’s worse. But it’s a lot better than it used to be.”

Contact Sarah Rafique at srafique@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7549. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SarahRafique

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