When we look at the increase of sexual assault in the Army many wonder why the number hasn’t decreased since we have spent countless hours training and retraining NCO, officers and counselors. We should not see the number as a defeat or that the system is failing our soldiers; gradually more soldiers are trusting the system and SHARP is working. What is sexual assault in civilian and military terms? Sexual assault refers to offenses of a sexual nature committed without the lawful consent of the victim. Sexual assault includes rape, forcible sodomy, indecent assault, and carnal knowledge as defined by Articles 120, 125, and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The UCMJ is a handbook every solider gets acquainted with on their journey to becoming a solider.
If you look back 20-30 years ago when the rise of having a diverse co-ed military was really taking hold on our nation, the soldiers whether it be male or female, wouldn’t come forward because they feared their leadership, were threatened by someone in their chain of command and coerced that they would be in trouble or their career harder. Fast forward to present and the options that are available online, telephone, counselors and widely used battle buddy system has become effective. As a result from We should be focusing on getting those numbers lowered by more protection and enforcement and stopping it before it happens. We should not be campaigning for them to tell us that they are a victim.
“Preventing sexual assault is our moral duty,” Defense Secretary James N. Mattis wrote “By its nature, sexual assault is one of the most destructive factors in building a mission-focused military.” “Self-discipline, alert noncommissioned officers and attuned chains of command are essential in setting standards to strengthen military readiness to fight well and increase the ability to recruit and retain the best people”, he wrote. (health.mil quote)
The Army policy on sexual assault states it is a criminal offense that has no place in the Army. It degrades mission readiness by devastating the Army’s ability to work effectively as a team. Sexual assault is incompatible with Army Values and the Warrior Ethos and is punishable under the Uniform Codes of Military Justice (UCMJ) and other federal and local civilian laws. Thankfully we recognize this is a huge problem and the Army began the use of training, education, and awareness to prevent sexual assault, promote the sensitive and timely handling of victims of sexual assault and hold those who commit sexual assault offenses accountable without letting them back into the workforce. I believe this is to reinforce a commitment to the Army Values and the Warrior Ethos.
Many people misconstrue sexual assault as physical. Sexual assault is based on a variety of actions including words. Verbal sexual harassment can be just as damaging as physical and is being reported as well. In my opinion the increased report, updated by the DOD as of May 2018, is a direct result of hashtag movements, leaders in the world being apprehended, celebrities coming forward as well stating this isn’t a cohesive environment and should change. I also believe the Army could be more effective in raising awareness for sexual assault individuals simply in the way some information and the way victims are handled. The majority of sexual assaults are reported from larger bases and not really overseas. One article stated, a collection of U.S. bases in South Korea had a combined 211 reports of sexual assault while Norfolk had 270 reports of sexual assault in the 2016 fiscal year, which began in October 2015 and ended in September 2016. That is down slightly from 291 cases at Norfolk in 2015. (pentagon data NDTV) Soldiers are learning to respect themselves as individuals who should enjoy their workplace and aren’t intimidated by rank. Therefore, reporting even verbal assault is accepting so someone’s words don’t become actions.
In closing, I would say the Army and military as a whole is understanding the severity hiding sexual assault has caused mentally for a lot of soldiers. The grasp of the situation may have come later than we had hoped but change is coming forth and the numbers are proving it. I believe the increased training, better awareness thru social media and media mainstreams along with the implementation of the SHARP program, alot more individuals will continue to mentor and spread the recognition phases.
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