Awareness reaches peak levels at SHARP Summit

Story and photo by Ronnie Schelby 21st Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs

Senior noncommissioned officers  from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command and event cadre members, discuss sexual harassment/assault response and prevention training scenarios during the SHARP Summit.
Senior noncommissioned officers from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command and event cadre members, discuss sexual harassment/assault response and prevention training scenarios during the SHARP Summit.
Senior enlisted leaders from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command ascended to new heights of awareness during a unique, collaborative Sexual Harrassment/Assault Response and Prevention Summit April 13 at Armstrong’s Club on Vogelweh.

The event, appropriately conducted during Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention month, included presentations by agencies including the Inspector General’s Office and Equal Opportunity, as well as the SHARP office.

The summit followed on the heels of round-robin training conducted the previous week at Sembach Kaserne in partnership with U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland Pfalz.
Like the SHARP Summit, the round-robin training included presentations and representation from a variety of agencies. Organizations including the U.S. NATO Brigade, 212th Combat Support Hospital, 598th Transportation Brigade and the 21st Special Troops Battalion and garrison offices supported the training. Personnel assigned throughout the Kaiserslautern area participated in the training also.

The events, held as part of an Army-wide SHARP stand down, built on the Department of the Army directives and guidance from U.S. Army in Europe headquarters.

“What was terrific about all these events was the interaction of the various agencies with leaders and trainees,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney Rhoades, the 21st TSC senior enlisted leader. “We don’t want to lose sight of the big picture as we focus on specific issues. These events worked precisely like our organizations should; we leveraged the entire team to confront challenges and accomplish goals. This helps build a Strong Europe and a Strong Army.

“Our senior leaders not only at USAREUR and the 21st TSC but at the Department of the Army are focused strongly on leadership and mentorship at every level,” the command sergeant major continued. “This forum marks yet another Strong Europe leadership laboratory. Everyone who participates in this training and these discussions leaves not only better informed, but also more self aware. I think we’re sustaining what we’re doing well and building momentum toward positive change.”

The 21st TSC operates the SHARP resource center, also located on Sembach Kaserne, on behalf of USAREUR.

The substance of the training also changed to encourage relevance, realism and dialogue. In order to create a more direct learning experience, training at all of the events focused on interactive participation through role playing in the “what if” scenarios that Soldiers might encounter in real life.

Presenters focused on improving communication skills, mentoring and living the Army values at all levels within the military ranks. According to organizers, understanding the Army values also includes embracing cultural change advocated by their agencies.

“It’s not about being in the Army — it’s about me,” said Staff Sgt. Polly Hedge, a behavioral health specialist with the 254th Combat Operations Stress Control section, and instructor for a class on sexual harassment reporting. “Everybody can make a difference in order to affect cultural change. Everyone is a leader, no matter what their position.

“The Army is a cultural melting pot,” she continued. “We all come into the Army with our own habits and backgrounds. Therefore, some Soldiers may not completely understand what senior leaders are trying to teach. This can often result in confusion and loss of trust and cohesion.”
Hedge advocates continuous training as a means of transforming values and perspectives.

“We all must continually work on communication issues,” Hedge said. “This is accomplished through training. Through training, the Army breaks down old habits and builds a Soldier up to align one’s values, morals and ethics with the Army standards.”

Also added this year were a number of related subjects and separate classes not included in prior training sessions. Hedge’s class, for example, suggested that sexual assault has direct ties to suicide, reporting, trust and all of the other topics discussed during the

“Last year, we included the mandatory SHARP training,” said Sgt. 1st Class Margaret Pottin, a SHARP advocate with the European Regional Dental Command. “However, this year we’ve included a number of other stations — in fact anything that is related to SHARP. This round-robin training focuses on all resources in order to make our Soldiers stronger and better. We are developing leaders at every level.”

Additional classes added this year includ Social Media and Hazing, EO, Resilience Reprisal, Ask, Care, Escort/Suicide Prevention and Center for the Army Profession and Ethic training.

“We have brought all of these different agencies and offices together to demonstrate to all attendees that all of us are interrelated,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Rivers, 21st TSC equal opportunity advisor. “For example, someone can come to EO with a complaint about favoritism, and I speak with them. However, if the favoritism then becomes sexual in nature, I immediately direct them to speak with a SHARP advocate.”

Key leaders like Rhoades emphasized the importance of noncommissioned officer leadership as he encouraged his senior NCOs to make a difference through listening, innovation, mentoring and coaching.

“Set an example for your junior NCOs,” Rhoades said. “Walk the walk, and talk the talk. Live the life that you want your junior NCOs to emulate. Remember that every soldier is important from the lowest to the highest grade. Everyone is valued equally.”