Military orders from top brass in Washington D.C. are being carried out for sexual harassment and assault training at Joint Base San Antonio.
Local military officials say the Army’s Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Program (SHARP) was ordered by General Ray Odiernio, chief of staff of the U.S. Army, around the time the Senate Armed Services Committee held their heated, marathon hearing on sexual assault in June.
More than 600 Fort Sam Houston personnel, both military and civilian, turned out for the SHARP training. Other branches conducted their own programs.
Sgt. First Class Latrice Jefferson with Army North said a big part of the training involved the way men and women address each other in professional situations, because language sets the tone for respect.
"Until you actually make them aware of it, they don’t know. So the lack of training does evolve to something more serious," Jefferson said.
Addision Elliott, civilian sexual assault response coordinator at Fort Sam Houston, said research has shown that one-third of sexual assaults are preceded by sexual harassment, which was not included in the Army’s previous sexual assault training.
"So then they took the sexual harassment piece and combined it with the sexual assault piece to make the SHARP program. There again, they’re identifying that behavior and if you can stop that behavior, if it’s on a continuum, if you can stop it at sexual harassment before it gets to sexual assault, then that’s the idea. If you can stop that behavior," Elliott said.
Officers from three-star generals to lieutenant colonels joined enlisted and civilian personnel at the same training session led by the first sergeants.
So urgent was the training that Joint Base San Antonio bases virtually shut down all other activities in order to get it done.