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Stomping out sexual assault—a team effort

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By MAJ. GEN. PEGGY COMBS

Throughout the month of April, organizations from across the entire installation came together to recognize Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Activities ranged from a motorcycle ride to 5k runs to Denim Day and even an information campaign setup at one of our fitness centers that featured victims’ stories. Fort Knox High School students also participated, writing essays on how and why sexual harassment and assault needs to be stomped out. Significant creativity and effort went into these activities and more – all to collectively promote awareness, get individuals involved and make an impact. Simply put, I couldn’t be prouder of everyone, and my fellow leaders echo this sentiment.

Since the time I was first stationed at Fort Knox—July 2011—I can confidently state we’ve made progress as an installation and as an Army in getting after this issue. But we’re not done yet. In fact, the efforts that were on display in April are the same efforts needed for 12 months out of every year. Why? Because if the principles of trust and respect are fully integrated into everything we do at all times and at all levels, sexual harassment/assault as well as other issues affecting team cohesion fade and eventually disappear. And right here at Fort Knox, I believe we have a golden opportunity to identify creative solutions, show what right looks like and be the standard bearers for our Army.

Just think about it. This installation is uniquely positioned to holistically tackle sexual harassment/assault because of its diversity.

* In addition to a significant active component presence, we have several reserve component organizations.

* Thousands of Soldiers work here, but there are even more civilian employees.

* Thousands of college cadets converge on Fort Knox each summer for training.

* Hundreds of Soldiers and civilians assigned to Fort Knox organizations actually live and work far away from post.

While some may view what I just described as more of an impediment, I get excited because great diversity brings unique perspectives. And when combined with a continued active emphasis on sexual harassment/assault prevention among our team of teams, comprehensive strategies and tactics are developed which lead to results.

The Community Health Promotion Council and Sexual Assault Review board meetings I chair help bring both aspects together. It’s a great credit to the professionals here who work in this subject area as well as the leadership across Fort Knox. As anyone who attends these meetings can attest, the CHPCs and SARBs are more like think tanks as opposed to basic briefings. Everyone—subject area professionals and leaders alike—plays an active part. Critical thinking, the sharing of best practices, and the creation of other ideas for how to make improvements have become the standard.

This standard, however, applies to everyone. We each must vehemently denouncement sexual harassment/assault and prevent such occurrences through proper mindsets, creative ideas and courageous actions. A simple yet sound approach to live by is our Army’s I A.M. STRONG campaign. Intervene. Act. Motivate.

To everyone who appropriately spotlighted SAAPM, you have my sincere appreciation. Now let’s all continue marching along together every day to stomp out sexual assault!

Strength Starts Here!