Written by 1st Lt. Verniccia Ford
101st Airborne Division (AA) Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs
Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan – Even with enduring sustainment operations, 101st Airborne Division Task Force Lifeliner Soldiers demonstrated their commitment to the Army sexual assault and harassment campaign during a three part seminar. Soldiers flooded the Morale Welfare Recreation Theater at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan eager to see what Sgt. 1st Class Crystal King, an automatized logistics specialist, and the 101st Special Troops Battalion Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, had planned for them.
“The Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program is something that is near and dear to my heart,” said King. “I want our Soldiers to understand and know the importance of the program. I want our formation to be well equipped with the knowledge and tools on how to combat sexual assault and harassment in our formation.”
The topics included: victim resources, reporting procedures, unit readiness effects, and deployed risk reduction considerations. King placed a huge emphasis on fostering an environment where our Soldiers take on the responsibility to keep our formation safe.
The event began with the playing of one of the Army’s most reputable videos, “SHARP Spoken Word” by Edward Wilson. As the video played, emotions flooded the room. Upon completion of the video, anguished spectators were compelled to ask questions about the SHARP program.
Following the video, Soldiers within the 101st Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade took to the stage to act out vivid scenarios of what sexual harassment and sexual assault may look like within formations across the Army.
“Acting really puts things into perspective for people,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hayden, an ammunition technician specialist, and the brigade’s ammunition chief.
Hayden acted in a sexual harassment scene where he played the role of a command sgt. maj. who was preying on a female master sgt. new to her unit.
“Seeing familiar faces up on stage allows people to see that misconduct and sexual harassment is real,” Hayden said. “It gives the depiction that within our formation we have both predators and victims.”
The seminar concluded with King speaking extensively on her own traumatic experience as a sexual assault survivor. King shared how horrific the experience was, the impact it had on her life, and her journey making it past that unfortunate milestone in her life. King emphasized the importance of eradicating sexual assault and harassment crimes from the Army, and the dire need for endless support from fellow service men and women.
“The personal stories shared during the training resonated with me; it made me reflect on the people that I love and care about,” said Capt. Mary Lara, a transportation officer, and the Operational Contracting Support chief for the 101st RSSB. “The SHARP Pledge directly supports readiness in our formations. The take away is that any form of sexual assault or harassment is detrimental to the emotional and mental readiness of our Soldiers. It is not enough to merely hold yourself accountable, but everyone around you as well.”
The theater portion of the seminar concluded and Lifeliners headed back to the office to reaffirm their dedication and commitment to Army Readiness by signing the 2019 SHARP commitment pledge.
Staff Sgt. Jasen Leveton, a motor transportation operator, and the brigade’s victim advocate, introduced the pledge by emphasizing the importance of having personal courage to intervene no matter the time or place. Leveton also spoke on the importance of decisive actions that will keep 101st Airborne Division Soldiers safe and our Army united. Service members of all ranks eagerly crowded around the pledge to sign their names in support of the 2019 fiscal year initiative.
Unit paraphernalia flooded the streets of Bagram as Lifeliners rallied to conclude the final part of their SHARP seminar.
Soldiers participated in a SHARP Pledge five kilometer run on October 18. Upon completion of the run, Col. Stephanie Barton, the 101st RSSB commander, gave closing comments to all attendees pledging her support to the SHARP program.
“It is our duty to provide Soldiers and civilians a safe work environment and positive atmosphere to excel,” said Barton. “Our main goal is to ensure we have a team that will ‘intervene, act, and motivate’. The 101st Airborne Division Lifeliners will not tolerate sexual assault or harassment amongst our ranks.”