Chaplain's Corner: September 13, 2013|
Posted 9/16/2013 Updated 9/16/2013
Commentary by Army Chaplain (1st Lt.) Angie Erickson
Army Reserve chaplain
9/16/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARSON, Alaska --
|The "Chaplain's Corner" offers perspectives to enhance spiritual/religious resiliency in support of Air Force and Army Comprehensive Fitness programs.
Comments regarding specific beliefs, practices, or behaviors are strictly those of the author and do not convey endorsement by the U.S. government, the Department of Defense, the Army, the Air Force, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, or the 673d Air Base Wing.
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another
I am a Soldier, Airman, military spouse and installation SHARP victim advocate for JBER-Richardson.
If someone had told me during basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., that I would spend the rest of my life serving in the military community, I would have laughed - not just a little, but a lot, especially while I was digging my own foxhole in the heat of the day.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, as I reflect on my military service, it feels as though I am just getting started.
Having served as a journalist, chaplain and military spouse, it now seems I am facing one of my toughest battles yet - as a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program victim advocate.
As a journalist, I highlighted the military's positive aspects, but as a chaplain, I became very much aware of the struggles our military community faces.
The SHARP Program has come about because we have some - male and female -
in our ranks, who seek to harm their comrades and destroy the very essence of teamwork.
This doesn't seem possible in a world where a Soldier puts his or her life on the line.
It doesn't seem possible in a world where we live by Army values - in a world where you can count on your buddy.
It doesn't seem possible in a world where it would seem that the last person you would harass or assault is one of your own.
However, statistics prove otherwise, and has the media and the American public demanding answers to the increasing incidents of sexual harassment or assaults among our ranks.
They are asking, can our Army train its way out of this situation where trust and equality are paramount?
I believe we can, but it will take some time and discipline, as with every culture change.
As a chaplain, I believe many of the answers can be found in scripture, which is as useful today as it was when it first came forward to instruct God's people more than 2,000 years ago.
Proverbs 27:17 tells us that as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
This passage speaks to the very heart of our Soldiers, male and female alike, who go the extra mile to serve selflessly, who become trained and skilled and are an essential element of the Army team.
How, then, can there be room for sexual harassment or assault when each Soldier is a valuable member of the team?
The Army has made it clear there is not.
There will be zero tolerance for such behavior and action because it is contrary
to the Army values.
We want every Soldier to understand the definitions of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination which involves any unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature between the same or opposite genders.
While there are three categories of sexual harassment - verbal, nonverbal and physical contact - there are two types of sexual harassment to be concerned with: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.
For more information about sexual harassment, see Army Regulation 600-20, Chapter 7.
Sexual assault, on the other hand, can be found in Chapter 8 of AR 600-20.
Sexual assault is a crime defined as intentional sexual contact, characterized by use
of force, physical threat or abuse of authority, or when the victim does not or cannot consent.
Sexual assault includes rape, nonconsensual sodomy, indecent assault (unwanted, inappropriate sexual contact or fondling), or attempts to commit these acts.
Sexual assault can occur without regard to gender, or spousal relationship or age of victim.
Sexual assault is the most under-reported violent crime in our society and in the military.
This is why SHARP reinforces the Army's commitment to eliminate incidents of sexual assault through a comprehensive policy that centers on awareness and prevention, training and education, victim advocacy, response, reporting and accountability.
The Army has put many prevention strategies in place to thwart this prosecutable tragedy.
Ask yourself would you just walk by an electrical wire that is throwing sparks and may eventually cause a fire?
Would you not seek help for those trapped on an elevator?
Don't turn a deaf ear or a blind eye.
Do your part and become educated and aware about the SHARP program so you can get involved, take action and sharpen another to adhere to the Army Values - loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.
As the Army saturates its community with SHARP awareness, I encourage you to think about Proverbs 27:17 every time you hear the SHARP Program mentioned.
Attend mandatory training; don't be the person that becomes desensitized to the SHARP message or think that it has nothing to do with you.
Instead, think about how you can sharpen another, and ultimately improve the Army way of life.
The crisis hotline on JBER-R is 384-7272 and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office for JBER-Elmendorf is 551-7272. For general information, call 384-1600.