Why did you sign up? Many of us have the same answer- to serve our country and be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Who would’ve ever thought to come into the military you would have to watch over your back fearing that one of your own would even think to cross you in ways you could never imagine. SHARP is real and destroying our military. SHARP damages the military by negatively impacting the overall teamwork, unit morale and the mission readiness of the force. Imagine being on a team where you have a few people making degrading sexual comments or gestures towards others or even worse a leader who doesn’t correct it. Not only is this morally wrong but it also creates a toxic work environment. If you are looking over your shoulder because you fear your own team members, how will the team be able to operate effectively to fulfill the mission?
Fear is the mind killer that keeps service members from reporting things they hear or even see. Fearing that if you’re out hanging with friends and decide to have a couple drinks that the one aggressive friend would lose his professional bearing. Or the feeling of embarrassment afterward so you’re afraid to report you because you don’t want people to look at you crazy or possibly not believe you. Maybe even standing by watching your buddy joke around with a girl but you hear her say stop and instead of telling him to back off- you look to her and tell her to not be so uptight. These are all issues servicemen and servicewomen face each day, but when does it stop. Unit readiness is vital to the Army as a whole. We can’t fight or train the best if our overall unit isn’t ready- physically, mentally, socially and emotionally. When SHARP is happening, it’s beginning to put a dent into that readiness. Just think if we are spending our training and development time to address issues and punish those individuals who go against basic Army values and moral then we are not training soldiers and getting units for ready to conduct our one mission- defeating America’s enemy and protecting the country. As an Army, we must act on every action and treat each case with the same importance. Each Service member must always be treated with respect, dignity and the basic human decency. Victims must be protected by all means necessary; at times commanders lose sight of the victim. Never forget to check on your soldiers after tragic events happen, granted training must continue but to complete any mission- every soldier is needed.
The Army’s approach to SHARP is a driving factor of the overall stats. In the fiscal year 2017 (FY17), the Army continued to see an increase in the number of sexual assaults reported: 4.7 reports of sexual assault per 1,000 Soldiers, an increase from the FY16 rate of 4.4 per 1,000 Soldiers. However, commanders, or should I say all leaders must continue to create healthy cultures or climates within units. This can be done by not ignoring small incidents with the thought of “it was a joke” and hopes that it will disappear.
In conclusion, we as an organization must understand the importance of SHARP and how it impacts the organization as a whole. SHARP damages the military by negatively impacting the overall teamwork, unit morale and the mission readiness of the force. Dealing with SHARP isn’t an easy task and, in the end, – one voice could be the start of something great. One brave soldier stepping in to correct and save another, stepping in and telling that junior enlisted or senior that they’re out of line, one voice could be the start to a parade of others. Be that voice for yourself or your fellow sister or brother. Let’s take care of our Army.