As the Army focuses on its People First priority, the Army Materiel Command’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program leaders are emphasizing the importance of team cohesion and employee awareness as deterrents against sexual harassment and assault.
Since 2001, April has been recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. During those 20 years, the Department of Defense and the Army have coordinated SAAPM events to increase awareness and prevention of sexual harassment and assault. The events also promote an environment of mutual trust between leaders and Soldiers and civilians, which allows cohesive teams to grow, improves unit readiness and discourages unwanted behaviors. As part of that growing understanding within the Army Materiel Command workforce, SAAPM elevates efforts to inform employees on prevention, bystander intervention, and the negative impact on workplace teams and employee morale when sexual harassment or sexual assault occur.
“This annual observance is about preventing sexual harassment and assault through education and awareness of how impactful this can be on the people around us,” Kim Green, AMC’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program manager, said. “The best way to stand up against sexual harassment and assault is by working together to build teams of trust and resilience, and by being aware and intervening so that we can stop an incident before it happens.”
The DOD theme for SAAPM is “Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission.”
The Army has added the secondary theme of “Building Cohesive Teams Through Character, Trust and Resilience.” Both emphasize the importance of the Army priority of People First.
“We ask every Soldier, family member, Army civilian and Soldier for Life to listen, care and intervene to prevent and respond to sexual assault this April and every day of the year,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston and Acting Secretary of the Army John Whitley said in an official memo designating the Army’s observance of SAAPM.
The memo went on to say: “Sexual assault and harassment are a form of deliberate fratricide, and the Army doesn’t tolerate fratricide. Soldiers will instinctively intervene to prevent fratricide, care for its victims and hold perpetrators accountable. That is why it is incumbent upon all leaders – whether they wear chevrons, stars or suits – to foster the same culture in which people care about one another and form cohesive teams in which each person feels a sense of belonging, and is treated with dignity and respect.”
The need to build a culture of dignity and respect should be addressed continually within the workforce, said Maureen Trainor, AMC’s Sexual Assault Response coordinator.
“People change, missions change, people dynamics change. But, even with changes, the importance of treating others with dignity and respect, and the need to prevent sexual harassment and assault never changes,” Trainor said. “Protecting our people in the workplace protects our mission and what we stand for as an Army organization.”
Both Green and Trainor have seen a growing understanding of the serious physical and emotional damage caused by sexual harassment and assault within both the military and throughout the nation.
“This is an invisible, insider threat that can damage employee well-being and be prosecuted in court,” Trainor said. “For the betterment of employees and the organization, we have to prevent this crime before it occurs. We can work to prevent it through education and awareness, not just in April, but all year long.”
The Army SAAPM emphasis on character, trust and resilience encourages employees to reflect on their own professional and personal development as well as on how to improve team dynamics within their organization.
“We are all on the same team, the same Army team, the same AMC team,” Green said. “We need to care for each other and look out for each other. We need to protect our teams and our teammates so that we are all working and thriving in a workplace where dignity and respect are important, and sexual harassment and assault are not tolerated.”
AMC is observing SAAPM with the following employee activities: Team Redstone Teal Tuesdays, encouraging employees to wear the color of teal on Tuesdays to show their support for SAAPM; Wednesdays Walk for a Cause: Prevention, Awareness and Survivors, encouraging employees to enjoy the fitness benefits of walking while also supporting SSAPM; and Denim Day, April 28, encouraging employees to join an international movement of wearing jeans and other denim-like clothing to show their belief that victims are not to be blamed for sexual assault because of what they are wearing. AMC employees are asked to share photos of these activities with the SHARP program at so they can be posted on the AMC Facebook site.
In addition, the AMC SHARP program is sponsoring a SAAPM Essay Contest. AMC employees can submit an essay based on the SAAPM theme or in response to one of the following suggested topics: The importance of recognition of Human Behaviors; Is Sex Trafficking really a problem in America?; What do you know about Human Trafficking?; Describe harassment and ways to overcome it; or How can you make a “harassment free” workplace? Contact the SHARP program for entry details.