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 April 09, 2010

News

Unit victim advocates attend
SHARP Program training

Army Community Service (ACS) Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Program training to meet annual training requirements for current and new (military) unit victim advocates was held March 22-26 at Fort McCoy.

A number of area professionals addressed the group during the 40-hour workshop to present both military and civilian aspects of the issue, said Elizabeth Carmichael, Fort McCoy SHARP ACS Victim Advocate Coordinator. More than 100 people attended the workshop.
PHOTO: Barbara Mashak, a licensed professional counselor for the Scenic Bluffs Community Health Center of Cashton, Wis. addresses a Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Prevention Program workshop for military unit victim advocates at the Wisconsin Military Academy at Fort McCoy. Photo by Rob Schuette
Barbara Mashak, a licensed professional counselor for the Scenic Bluffs Community Health Center of Cashton, Wis. addresses a Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Prevention Program workshop for military unit victim advocates at the Wisconsin Military Academy at Fort McCoy. Photo by Rob Schuette

“It’s also important for them (unit victim advocates) to know what resources are available in the civilian community to provide assistance and support to the individuals and program,” Carmichael said.

New this year was a visit by comedian/educator Bernie McGrenahan. The first part of his presentation was a comedy routine, called the hook, to connect with the audience and prepare them for the serious aspect of the subject matter. Part two of the presentation was the training and prevention message, called the “Happy Hour.” During that 30-minute segment McGrenahan covered a wide variety of topics, including the No. 1 date-rape drug in America.

McGrenahan drew heavily on his own experiences of living a life of high-risk and excessive alcohol consumption. The results were unacceptable alcohol-related sexual behavior, three driving-under-the-influence arrests, a six-month jail incarceration and his 19-year-old brother’s alcohol- and drug-related suicide.

Now 21 years past the time he experienced alcohol substance abuse firsthand, McGrenahan uses his “Happy Hour” program to help empower and inspire troops to avoid destructive and high-risk behaviors. The I. A.M. (intervene, act, motivate) Strong Army program message tells the troops that 95 percent of sexual assault cases involve alcohol. He also goes over the definition of consent and reducing risks of being assaulted through drugs added to drinks.

The talk encourages victims to seek counseling, differentiates between restricted and unrestricted reporting and domestic violence/abuse.

The Army Posture Statement defines the SHARP Program as promoting “a climate that does not tolerate sexual assault, sexual harassment or sexually offensive language or gestures, while providing sensitive care and confidential reporting for victims of sexual assault and accountability for offenders.”

The program is a commander’s responsibility. Commanders are directed to promote a change in organizational culture and command climate through the I. A.M. Strong campaign that reinforces the Army’s Core Values, Warrior Creed and standards of conduct.

For more information about the SHARP Program in the Fort McCoy community, call the Fort McCoy ACS Victim Advocate coordinator at 608-388-8951 or the ACS Family Advocacy Program manager at 608-388-2412 or visit the Web site http://www.mccoymwr.com/ACS/Sexual%20Assault.htm. The Web site http://www.militaryonesource.com also has valuable information about the topic.

To report sexual assaults in the Fort McCoy community, call the 24/7 hotline at 608-388-5000 (reachable from installation telephones by dialing 2-5000) or 608-487-0701 for assistance.

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