[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                 February 27, 2009

Sexual assault victims have 
advocates to turn to on post

By Rob Schuette, The Real McCoy

Soldiers who believe they are victims of sexual harassment or assault can turn to Fort McCoy’s Victim Advocate Coordinator (VAC)/ Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) for assistance.

Elizabeth Carmichael, installation VAC/SARC, said the Army is ready to support increased efforts to combat the crime, which include adding prosecutors, rearranging its criminal investigative unit and stepping up training to change behavior.

The Fort McCoy Army Community Service (ACS) Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program (SAPRP) offers many training opportunities, Unit Victim Advocate (UVA) support personnel, and assistance to navigate the processes involved in seeking help for sexual harassment/assault and/or reporting the crime, Carmichael said.

"Victims can contact a UVA or me and we will get the process started," Carmichael said. "They have a restricted reporting option, which allows them to confidentially report the incident and receive needed treatment and counseling services."

"This crime is about power and control and has no boundaries. Everyone has a right to say 'no' absolutely."

Elizabeth Carmichael,
Fort McCoy Victim Advocate Coordinator/
Sexual Assault Response Coordinator

This option does not lead to an investigation of the incident. Carmichael said the process does preserve all the evidence of an incident for up to one year, so a victim may decide at a later date to request an investigation, which may lead to charges being filed.

Because Soldiers are covered by the TRICARE healthcare program, treatment is referred to Franciscan-Skemp Healthcare of La Crosse, which is the nearest contracted agency that provides this specialized service.

A team of professionals make up a Sexual Assault Review Board that meets monthly to review the program and assure the highest quality services are being offered. Within 45 days of gaining a command, commanders are required to receive a briefing on the SAPRP. In response to that requirement and also the requirement for new commanders to receive a Family Advocacy Program (FAP) briefing, a new commanders and senior staff briefing on both the Army SAPRP and Army FAP is held the fourth Wednesday of each month from 9-11:30 a.m. at ACS, 2111 South 8th Ave.

UVAs receive an initial eight hours of training and then must take an annual 40-hour sexual assault prevention and response course. For the third consecutive year the ACS SAPRP will host a joint forces 40-hour training from April 27-May 1 at the Wisconsin Military Academy.

UVAs staff a 24-7 crisis line at Fort McCoy, which can be reached by calling 414-238-1676. They can provide support to victims, including accompanying them to medical appointments/treatments.

Carmichael said she also provides briefings to mobilizing and demobilizing Soldiers, Soldiers participating in extended combat training, and to personnel with first responder duties, such as law enforcement, medical, chaplain, legal and criminal investigation division personnel.

"Although, many people think of sexual harassment/assault occurring as a male committing an act against a female, the incident can include both parties being male or female as well as a female instigating an act against a male," Carmichael said.

The majority of personnel who are assaulted know their perpetrators.

"This crime is about power and control and has no boundaries," Carmichael said.

"Everyone has a right to say ‘no,’ absolutely."

For more information about the topic or training in the Fort McCoy community, call Carmichael at 608-387-2918.

More information about the program in the Fort McCoy community also is available through the Web site http://www.mccoymwr.com or at http://www.mccoymwr.com/ACS/Sexual%20Assault.htm.

(See related story)


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