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Sustainers take on fight against sexual assault

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“It is time we take on the fight against sexual assault and sexual harassment as our primary mission,” said Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff. “It is up to every one of us, civilian and soldier, general officer to private, to solve this problem within our ranks.”

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The 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) took a formidable step Tuesday against sexual assault and sexual harassment in their own ranks: collective awareness training for everyone assigned to the unit at Haszard Auditorium on Fort Knox.

“Awareness in my opinion is the first step to prevention,” said 1st Sgt. Kevin L. Weathers from the Headquarters Company of the 3rd ESC. “If our soldiers are not able to recognize the signs of sexual harassment and assault, how will they know the proper steps to prevent it from happening to themselves and others?”

Master Sgt. Beverly Bush, one of the two sexual harassment/assault response and prevention coordinators in the 3rd ESC, brought the awareness message into perspective for all in attendance, from senior leaders to junior enlisted soldiers by saying, “The culture of the Army has changed from 20 years ago. Things that were deemed acceptable back then are definitely not acceptable in today’s Army. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of the changes in policies when it comes to sexual harassment and assault.”

Roger Dickerson, Fort Knox Garrison sexual assault response coordinator, showed a civilian-made video depicting the treatment of soldiers and Marines, male and female, who were victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault while in the military and the difficulties they encountered since being assaulted.

“The soldiers were very into the movie,” Dickerson said. “I think they were a little shocked at how this could happen to another soldier.”

Spc. Viviana Baker, a food service specialist in the 3rd ESC, was saddened by the video.

“It made me feel sad that the females and males were treated in such a way by the people given the responsibility to take care of soldiers or by another military member,” Baker said.

Dickerson made the training interactive by stopping the video at key points to ask the soldiers questions and allow them to answer freely and ask their own.

“The question-answer period helped me to see the difference of views between the ranks,” Baker said. “After watching some parts of the video, I was angry at the way the military handled it, but being able to hear some of my chain of command’s responses reassured me that they would handle it better.”

Baker confirmed the intent of the training was met.

“I want the soldiers to understand that sexual harassment and sexual assault is a serious matter among both our male and female soldiers,” Weathers said. “I want them to know they can report it and we will investigate and eliminate the problem from within our ranks confident that their privacy and well being are of the upmost importance to me and the command team of the 3rd ESC.”