There are values the army uses to ensure all soldiers are treated with dignity and respect, the values are guides for soldiers to follow. The army values are a base for all soldiers to live their lives. Sexual harassment is detrimental to teamwork and creates a fractured work place. Sexual assault is a criminal act and does not fall in line with army values. The army has given guidance on the importance of dignity and respect for all soldiers by creating the army values, how to prevent and deter sexual harassment, how to prevent, intervene, report, and respond to sexual assault.
The Army Values
The United States Army has guidance on how soldiers should behave both on and off duty; soldiers should have values that are in line with the army’s values. Soldiers are trained starting in their initial entry training on the army values. “Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage (LDRSHIP).” (“Living the Army Values,” n.d.) All the army values are important to build well rounded professional soldiers. The value respect teaches soldiers the golden rule, treat others how they want to be treated. If soldiers treat others how they want to be treated, everyone would be treated with dignity and respect. According to the soldier’s code, “I will treat others with dignity and respect and expect others to do the same.” (“Living the Army Values,” n.d.). As a soldier and leader, everyone has the duty to correct actions that go against the army values. Programs created to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault are directly in line with the army values.
Sexual Harassment Prevention
Sexual harassment is a problem in any environment, it creates an unsafe work environment. The sexual harassment/assault response and prevention (SHARP) program was created to prevent sexual harassment and assault throughout the army with education and intervention. The army policy states sexual harassment is detrimental to readiness and teamwork. “Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination that involves unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature between the same or opposite genders.” (Department of the Army, 2014, p. 68). Sexual harassment creates a work environment where soldiers may feel uncomfortable or unsafe. There are two types of sexual harassment, “quid pro quo, Latin for this for that, and a hostile work environment.” (Department of the Army, 2014, p. 69). Quid pro quo is when the harasser offers the victim favorable actions for sexual favors, such as passes or promotions. In these instances, the harasser is most likely in a leadership position over the victim. The victim may feel trapped or scared of reprisal if they refuse. A hostile environment could be caused by inappropriate music, pictures, how someone looks at another person, or jokes in the work place. “The categories of sexual harassment are verbal (whistling, sexual jokes, comments), nonverbal (undressing someone with your eyes, winking, blowing kisses), and physical contact (blocking the path, touching, kissing, cornering someone).” (Department of the Army, 2014, p. 69). The program includes mandatory training to help educate soldiers on what sexual harassment is, how to intervene to prevent or deal with sexual harassment, and how to report it.
The techniques for dealing with sexual harassment are: direct approach (confronting the harasser), third party (ask someone else to talk to the harasser), indirect (sending an email or letter to the harasser), chain of command (report it to direct supervisor), and filing a formal complaint. (Department of the Army, 2014, p. 69).
This training was created due to the need to educate soldiers about what sexual harassment is, why it does not belong in the army, how to intervene to stop it, and how to build an environment free of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment prevention is one part of the SHARP program, the other part is sexual assault response and prevention.
Sexual Assault Prevention
Sexual assault is a selfish act that is never acceptable, it goes against army values and hurts the army team. The army created the sexual assault prevention and response program to eliminate sexual assault throughout the army. “Sexual Assault is a criminal offense that has no place in the army, it degrades mission readiness by devastating the army’s ability to work effortlessly as a team.” (Department of the Army, 2014, p. 70). All soldiers are required to have SHARP training. The training educates soldiers on the definition of sexual assault, contains scenarios to help them act out difficult situations, informs them of reporting options, and care that is offered to the victim. The training also emphasizes the importance of not blaming a victim, it was not their fault and they should not be re-victimized by anyone. The training is conducted by specially trained soldiers who have been through the SHARP course, the instructors are victim advocates and may be trained at different levels, there are sexual assault response coordinators (SARCs) and unit victim advocates (UVAs).
The goals of the SAPR program are to: create a climate to minimize sexual assault, create a climate that encourages victims to report, establish prevention training and awareness programs, ensure sensitive and comprehensive treatment to victims, and ensure leaders understand their roles and responsibilities. (Department of the Army, 2014, p. 70).
Unit command teams are trained to create a command climate which fosters the SHARP program. The unit commanders conduct command climate surveys to ensure the training is effective and their units are a safe and cohesive team. The SARCs are trained on not only how to teach the training, but also how to take a report and care for a victim. The SHARP program has options for victims on how to report an incident and the response resources for those who help.
Reporting and response
There are different report options for victims of sexual assault and several resources to ensure they get the options and care they need. “Sexual assault is the most under reported violent crime in or society and in the military.” (Department of the Army, 2014, p.105). If a victim chooses to report, they have two choices on how they want to report a sexual assault, they can choose a restricted or unrestricted report. “Restricted reporting allows a soldier who is a sexual assault victim, on a confidential basis, to disclose the details of their assault to specifically identified individuals and receive medical treatment and counseling, without triggering an official investigation.” (Department of the Army, 2014, p. 71). Restricted reporting was built into the SHARP program to encourage the victims to report cases of sexual assault so they can get the physical and emotional care they need. Restricted reporting is a tool that is helpful for a victim who wants to get treatment for the assault but does not want to initiate the formal investigation. Restricted reporting also allows the victim to talk to a SARC, healthcare provider, VA, or a chaplain about what happened. Once a restricted report is taken, it will be saved, should the victim decide they would like to change their reporting option to unrestricted, they will not have to re-tell the incident. If the victims chooses to change to an unrestricted report, they cannot go back to restricted. “Unrestricted reporting allows a soldier who is sexually assaulted and desires medical treatment, counseling, and an official investigation of his/her allegation to use current reporting channels.” (Department of the Army, 2014, p. 105). A victim can report an unrestricted report to a SARC, VA, healthcare provider, chaplain, chain of command, or the military police. Unrestricted reporting opens an official investigation into the allegation, the victim can request an expedited transfer either to another unit on their installation or request a PCS. Unrestricted reporting is the only way an offender can be held accountable for sexual assault. The soldier can receive a military protective order (MPO) if they need one with an investigation, without one, the victim would have to provide justification to the command as to why they need a MPO. The SHARP program has educated soldiers on how to treat victims with dignity and respect, how to prevent sexual assault in the formations, a process to report an assault, a way to get the care needed for victims, and resources available.
The army has given guidance on the importance of dignity and respect for all soldiers by creating the army values, how to prevent and deter sexual harassment, how to prevent, intervene, report, and respond to sexual assault. The army values are a guide to ensure soldiers are treating everyone as they would like to be treated. The SHARP program has given soldiers the training and tools to stop sexual harassment and prevent or report sexual assault in their units. The army values do not allow for sexual assault or harassment in the army.
- Department of the Army. (2014). Army Command Policy (AR 600-20). Retrieved from https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/r600_20.pdf
- Living the Army Values. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.goarmy.com/soldier-life/being-a-soldier/living-the-army-values.html.