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Fort Rucker empowers Soldiers, civilians to fight sexual assault, harassment

Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians attend the Fort Rucker Community Health Promotion Council Empowerment Workshop at the Spiritual Life Center May 18 to learn about sexual assault response and high-risk behaviors. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians attend the Fort Rucker Community Health Promotion Council Empowerment Workshop at the Spiritual Life Center May 18 to learn about sexual assault response and high-risk behaviors. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: May 31, 2016

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 31, 2016) -- When Soldiers head into battle, they’re sent into the fight with the best equipment and training that the Army can provide, so why not provide the best when it comes to fighting battles back home?

That’s exactly what Fort Rucker’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Program and the Community Health Promotion Council are trying to provide when it comes to sexual assault response through its empowerment workshop May 18 and 19, according to Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Blackman, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker sexual assault response coordinator.

“The empowerment workshop was an installation prevention team initiative designed to empower Soldiers and (Department of the Army Civilians) to identify positive decision skills and how to ‘bounce-back’ from tragedy,” he said. “It was created as a three-pronged effort to address issues and concerns relevant to what the population and command teams are currently facing.”

Throughout the workshop, which was held at the Spiritual Life Center, Soldiers and civilians were divided into different groups to learn about different issues that Soldiers face in the Army, whether its sexual abuse, child abuse or substance abuse, and how they might go about reporting such issues and handling those situations.

“The purpose of the training is to send a message out about high-risk behaviors, what it means to be an active bystander, and a description and a discussion on intimate relationships,” said Blackman. “It’s an issue because we have so many of our young people who may be engaging in these high-risk behaviors, such as drinking and driving, or getting into a situation that may potentially lead to a sexual assault.”

Rather than being a non-engaging bystander, Blackman said, Soldiers should be prepared to recognize high-risk behavior or a situation before it escalates into something that can cause lasting or even permanent damage.

This was the second year the empowerment workshop has been held. This year’s setup differed from last year’s event in that rather than having the workshop in a classroom setting, the groups were divided into sections to be a bit more interactive and focus on specific areas, said Blackman.

“We wanted to offer it to a broader spectrum of the Fort Rucker personnel and workforce,” said the SARC. “The change will enable the leadership that attended to carry the information gained back to their units and implement these skills into their organizations. Also, the workshop was tailored to issues that are currently seen as a potential problem through analysis conducted by the risk reduction team.”

For one Soldier, the lessons learned during the workshop were invaluable and provided her with the tools she needs to be able to tackle any situation should it come through her unit.

“This is definitely helpful to learn all I can here and relay this information to the Soldiers in my unit when I get there,” said 2nd Lt. Julia Frassetto, D Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment. “Whether you care to admit it or not, these things happen, so being prepared for it is good.

“This is a great opportunity to learn about what resources we have available, and what’s out there to help people who might be going through something like a sexual assault or anything like that,” she said. “I think this is something that is definitely necessary and having this available to us is huge.”

This article was originally published at www.army.mil/article/168868

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