The 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion held a dynamic Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program training March 25-26.
The first event was a working lunch for the human intelligence platoon junior Soldiers, where they went over the highlights of the Fort Hood Independent Review, Sgt. 1st Class Carlo Barranco, the battalion SHARP representative, said. His lead question to his Soldiers was, “What can we do to change the culture and lifestyle?”
“It’s not just a culture change, it’s a lifestyle change as well,” Barranco stated. “You can’t say you are for the program if you don’t enforce the standards all of the time. Be that person who stands up for what is right and challenge leaders to enforce it too.”
“As junior Soldiers, you will be inheriting these issues. What can you do to start change now?” Barranco questioned.
The next day, the battalion held a physical training event that included a ruck march, questions and intense exercises at five different stations.
“The questions were based off of the previous day when we went over the review,” Barranco explained.
The finale of the event was a day- long leaders professional development class where Barranco brought in numerous Army agencies to brief leaders of the battalion about the SHARP process. The agencies included Criminal Investigation Division, Special Victims Counsel, Forensic Nursing, Behavioral Health, a chaplain and an outside mental health counseling firm.
A Fort Hood Criminal Investigation Command agent spoke about the process of investigation from start to finish. He spoke about obtaining the who, what, when, where and how evidence is obtained. He also spoke about the time lines that are crucial to evidence collection.
Soldiers, family members, and Department of Defense civilians also have what is known as Special Victims Counsel as a resource. Capt. Dmitrius Mcgruder, an attorney on Fort Hood, stated that the SVC provides legal assistance to people who have experienced sexual assault, sexual harassment and domestic violence. These are for restricted and unrestricted reporting.
Mcgruder said that, at times, the junior Soldier population may not know the SVC exists until CID brings it up during an interview. Fort Hood currently has five available council members available for SVC services.
For those who have experienced a SHARP incident and or domestic violence with aggravating factors and do not know about the SVC, they can contact their SHARP office or give the SVC a call at 254-702-2187.
Victims of sexual assault and domestic violence also have the option to use services in the hospital, said a medical treatment and sexual assault nurse examiner.
This is done through what is called a forensic nurse. More specifically, the forensic nurse handles intimate partner violence, strangulation and sexual assault. Forensic nurses who offer this specific care provide treatment holistically, taking into consideration the short and long-term effects such events. Victims, regardless of reporting restricted or unrestricted, can use this service.
In addition to services provided, Col. Steven Tabat and Master Sgt. James Allen with the Fort Hood Inspector General’s office spoke about different types of IG complaints and how the claims process works here and DoD level.
Tabat and Allen explained that while they handle these claims, if the claims involve SHARP, those are sent to the DoDIG to be investigated.
Tabat and Allen said that even with a whistleblower IG complaint, a person still needs the four elements of proof to obtain a substantiated finding.
Tabat and Allen ensured leaders that Soldiers have the right to talk to IG. While Soldiers have the right, the IG office does log every report and how often people report. If a person abuses the program, the IG office can send the information to DoDIG and ArmyIG to report the abuse of the program.
“The victim advocate is here to assist you in any way whether you decide to file restricted or unrestricted,” Barranco said. “There is no rush, we are here to ensure information is correct. If at any time you don’t feel comfortable or need a break, or don’t feel comfortable talking to me we have alternative person. All of our communications written or oral will always be confidential. Any of our discussions will not be discussed with anyone besides the brigade SHARP representatives.”