Army investing more money, training
into SHARP program
|By Rob McIlvaine, Army News Service
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Since 2007, the Army’s budget to combat sexual
assault has increased fivefold, said the director of Human Resources,
Brig. Gen. Barrye L. Price has oversight of the Army’s Sexual Harassment
and Assault Response and Prevention program, known as SHARP, and
explained that a number of initiatives are underway to help sexual
April is both Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Alcohol Abuse
Prevention Month, and Price’s directorate has purview over both. “We
know that a great deal of sexual assault involves alcohol consumption,
and we feel a linkage between the two,” he said.
The Army is currently expanding victim services by:
• Credentialing brigade Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARC) and
Victim Advocates (VA);
• Expanding and executing investigative and judge-advocate training and
• Developing SHARP curriculum for all military and civilians;
• Meeting a Congressional directive to have at least one full-time SARC
and one full-time VA in every brigade or equivalent-sized unit within
the armed forces by October 2013. By that time, civilian personnel will
have these jobs, Price said.
• Expanding the population serviced by the SHARP program.
New legislation added Family members who are adults, along with
civilians and contracted employees in a deployed environment —
increasing the serviced population by 50 percent. SHARP began in
September 2008, is currently in Phase III of the I. A.M. (Intervene,
Act, and Motivate) Strong Campaign. The third phase of the campaign is
“achieving cultural change” and it was launched April 2011. Phase IV —
sustaining, refining and sharing — is scheduled to launch in April 2013.
Restricted versus unrestricted
“In our system, we have both restricted reporting, which means it’s not
brought through to the chain of command, it’s not brought forward to
Criminal Investigation Division (CID), and none of the personal
identifying information is provided,” Price said.
The unrestricted report, he said, is one where the apparatus that
includes the victim advocate, the SARC, the chaplain, the provost
marshal, the CID, the hospital, and the unit commander are all involved.
This is where prosecution would hail from.
To ensure a victim isn’t victimized twice, Price said, the Army added an
“expedited transfer” option for victims in December 2011. “This means
within 72 hours the local unit will make the decision to have the victim
of sexual assault make a permanent change of station out of that unit
and particular location.”
Also in unrestricted cases, he said, this October will see the
implementation of the rule that all evidence, case records and forensics
associated with the assault will be retained for 50 years.
“In restricted cases, all of the above is retained for five years,”
Price added that after a case lingers a year in the restricted
environment, the SARC will contact the victim and tell him or her that
they have the decision now to go unrestricted or leave it in the
restricted realm. In the restricted realm, after five years, the victim
will be notified that their safe kit and all the forensics associated
with that case will be discarded.
“Right now, I would say we’re in a transition phase with regard to how
we’re going to execute the law. There are several things at work. We
have to work out the funding piece to hire two people per brigade,”
SARC, VA credentialing
The credentialing for both SARCs and victim advocates involves 80 hours
of SHARP training they must successfully complete. They must undergo a
background check, have letters of recommendation from commanders or
supervisors, and be certified by the National Organization of Victim
“Following certification, the unit can appoint the individual as a SARC
or VA. It also requires 32 hours of continuing education per year to
remain credentialed, and they have to be re-certified every year.
“We’re learning more about sexual assault ... the psychology of an
assailant, how to treat victims to ensure they’re not victimized twice.
The difference between a victim and a survivor ... the whole psychology
of it. So, it makes sense that continuing education be one of the
hallmarks of this program,” Price said.
“Right now, CID and Military Police personnel complete Army SHARP annual
training. They’ll be the primary trainers for this. In fact, most MPs
are being trained at our school, which is at Fort Leonard Wood (Mo.) —
considered the gold standard across the Department of Defense (DoD).
Officers and enlisted go through professional military education, he
“New recruits are receiving Sex Signal training. This is fun, innovative
and exciting, but it really empowers the individual through knowledge of
what is appropriate and what may not be.
“They learn what is really a prosecutable offense within the military.
So Sex Signals really exposes them to this reality, and the feedback has
been absolutely positive. For Soldiers and cadre, our drill sergeants
are receiving training on sexual assault,” Price said.
The Army also has Mobile Training Teams (MTT).
“In the MTT two-week training, over 9,000 of the required 17,000 SHARP
personnel have been trained. Commands must have 75 percent of their
SHARP personnel trained by March 31,” he said.
Last year, CID developed a new 80-hour course for all sexual assault
investigators, being held at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Course instruction, he said, includes interview techniques developed by
the MP School called Experiential Interview of Trauma Victims. This
allows investigators to obtain information about the assault and the
offender while minimizing the traumatic effect on the victim.
“This has been recognized by the DoD as a best practice and they’re
expanding that to train sexual assault investigators in all services,
during this year,” he said.
Price also said the Office of the Judge Advocate General selected many
to serve as Special Victims Prosecutors, based on the judge advocate
skills and proven expertise in the courtroom. Prior to assuming the
Special Victim Prosecutor duty, the judge advocate completes the 80-hour
career prosecutor course at the National District of Attorneys
Association, a 40-hour special victim prosecutor conference, and an
80-hour on-the-job training with a designated civilian district
“We take seriously the sacred trust we have with America, and our
program, holistically, is focused on prevention, intervention,
investigation and prosecution with an emphasis on victim support and
protection,” Price said.
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