04 May 2017

Photos by Jenni Benson, USAG Public Affairs

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Fort Detrick Stays SHARP with Month-Long Activities
Jenni Benson, USAG Public Affairs
Fort Detrick hosted several events in the month of April focused on eliminating sexual harassment and assault during Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

Although sexual assault awareness and prevention is a year-round effort, SAAPM is a time to focus efforts on building awareness through outreach and educational opportunities that impact our community, with these efforts making prevention something that should take place each and every day.

The DOD 2017 SAAPM theme is "Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission."

The goal of SAAPM is to raise public awareness and to educate the community and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.

The SAAPM kick-off took place April 11 at the Fort Detrick Auditorium with welcoming remarks from U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and Fort Detrick Commanding General Maj. Gen. Barbara R. Holcomb.

Holcomb welcomed the group to the event, reminding those in attendance of just how important their individual actions are to eradicating sexual violence.

“This awareness month is a time to reaffirm our commitment to the elimination of sexual assault, to support sexual assault victims and encourage intervention,” said Holcomb.

She went on to stress the both emotional and physical harm that sexual assault victims experience; the lingering effects that can haunt these particular victims in the same way as wounds received in battle.

“In the military, these debilitating consequences not only affect those individuals, they also directly impact mission readiness by compromising unit cohesion, trust and discipline,” said Holcomb.

Congressman John Delaney echoed Holcomb’s sentiments by adding, “This is a cancer that has plagued our country for a very long time. People are finally showing the courage to step forward and talk about what’s happened. It has ruined people’s lives… it has impaired performance of institutions and organizations where it has occurred, including the school systems, the workplace and the military. It is consistent across all institutions in our country and obviously around the world.”

Delaney continued, “The most important thing is to create the type of environment where we can tackle this head on and have open conversations. You create that type of environment and culture so people step forward and feel comfortable telling people they are victims, because until we create that type environment, we can never fully tackle this problem.”

Delaney went on to emphasize the important role the DOD is playing in setting the example by tying sexual assault awareness and prevention to the overall U.S. military mission.

“If there is any organization in the world that takes its mission seriously and fulfills its mission to the highest standard, it’s the U.S. military,” said Delaney.

Jennifer Nadler, guest speaker for the 2017 SAAPM ceremony, took the audience on an emotional journey of healing and transformation during her multi-media presentation incorporating personal photographs, original artwork and the music of Linkin Park.

“I am a professor; I am a wife; I am a mother; and I am a sexual abuse survivor.” Nadler began. “It has taken twenty-seven years to be able to say this without embarrassment or shame, without guilt or regret, without fear or self-loathing.”

During the presentation, Nadler gave a voice to the survivor. She shared her very intimate story about being sexually abused as a child and the road she traveled to heal. Her emotional and poignant presentation emphasized the importance of healing, the strength to press on and the powerful transformation from victim to survivor.

During SAAPM, other events highlighting the importance of this month took place around Fort Detrick.

The Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Expo took place at the Fort Detrick Auditorium April 19, featuring several educational hubs highlighting sexual assault prevention and awareness.

April 27, the Fort Detrick community gathered together for the SHARP walk on the Fort Detrick track, coming together to show solidarity in finding ways to eliminate sexual harassment and assault.

There is no place for sexual harassment, sexual assault or retaliation in the Army. While preventing sexual assault and enhancing mission readiness is an ongoing effort, SAAPM provides an opportunity for all members of the Army team to make a personal and public commitment to ending sexual assault, sexual harassment and retaliation from the ranks.
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