FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 16, 2010)- Sexual harassment and sexual assault continue to be ongoing issues that plague the military.

In 2009 alone, there were 3,230 reported sexual assaults on service members, according to The Fiscal Year 2009 Annual Report on Sexual Assault.

As a commander, it is my duty and responsibility to ensure that all of my Soldiers are familiar with the Army’s policy on the prevention of sexual assault and sexual harassment. The Army has a zero tolerance policy.

Leadership at all levels is committed to creating and maintaining an environment conducive to and respectful of human dignity.

Command teams consistently work to educate Soldiers on the identification and prevention of sexual harassment and sexual assault. They are informed on where to report incidents if they occur and the proper procedures for reporting those incidents.

We as leaders must foster an open environment with a command climate acceptable to reporting without reprisal.

In the past, sexual harassment and sexual assault training was primarily comprised of just presenting a set of PowerPoint slides.

The 16th Ordnance Battalion has developed a program in cooperation with the Fort Lee Army Community Service’s Family Advocacy Program Manager Patricia F. Harper and the installation sexual assault response coordinator Lauren Barboza, for weekly education sessions with our Soldiers in addition to the mandatory yearly training.

The program incorporates vignettes and interactive scenarios that are intended to grab the Soldiers’ attention, making them more eager to participate

As part of this program, the Soldiers walk through scenarios and provide input giving them a feeling of ownership that stresses the importance of the program.

The policy becomes a way of life instead of just another PowerPoint presentation.

All Army units are required to be equipped with trained unit victim advocates for Soldiers in need of assistance. The 61st Ordinance Brigade commander has appointed unit victim advocates for each company assigned to respond to incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault in a manner consistent with the Army policy. With trained senior leadership and educated Soldiers, we are diligently working as a team to combat and prevent incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault throughout our military. We invite all organizations to do their part to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assaults!

Our installation SARC and advocates can be reached 24 hours per day, seven days per week at (804) 894-0029.