By Sgt. Clara Harty | 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — During April, Fort Carson and the 4th Infantry Division participate in Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, or SAAPM.
This year, the Army’s theme, “Prevention Starts with You,” focuses on the idea of upholding what it means to be a member of an Army team. With the help of the Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program, Soldiers and leaders across the installation can work together to prevent and bring awareness to sexual assault, harassment and associated retaliation.
“SAAPM is in place to highlight just how important sexual assault prevention and awareness is,” said Capt. Erin Muri, the division victim advocate with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 4th Inf. Div. “We should collectively be practicing prevention and intervention techniques 24/7, 365 days of the year, but using the entire month of April to stress the importance is a good visual symbol of how meaningful this month is.”
The symbol for sexual assault awareness is a teal ribbon. The Fort Carson and 4th Inf. Div. team, down to the unit level, will be holding various events, including prevention awareness and intervention training sessions at locations across the installation. If you see teal signs, teal outdoor lights, banners with a teal ribbon, Soldiers participating in a teal color run, or lawn flags with inspirational messages on Manhart Field in the shape of a teal ribbon, you’ll know what it all means.
“Bringing awareness to such an important topic is incredibly important to us here at Fort Carson,” said Muri. “We aim to show our passion for this event throughout April and then every month to follow.”
Other events include a “Speak Out” performance by 1st Lt. Rashan Legard, platoon leader, 96th Aviation Support Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, at the Elkhorn Conference Center Friday, wearing teal on Tuesdays and sporting denim on Denim Day April 27, 2022.
Soldiers and leaders should operate in the Army as a cohesive unit, and to be cohesive, Muri said they must accept and acknowledge that issues like sexual assault and harassment are issues in Army formations. The community should know where to send people for help and resources, from locations to take educational courses about sexual assault prevention and intervention and learning how to get people to resources for assistance, examinations, and mental health assistance.
“The SHARP program is a necessity to the success of the victim’s work, life and family balance,” said David Stiles, a victim advocate with the 10th Special Forces Group Airborne, Fort Carson. “When a Soldier becomes aware of the variety of resources from on and off the installation, they are offered an abundance of avenues to best fit their situation.”
Stiles said that the Soldier can decide which route they would like to take to report with all of the information. They know what options they have and what to expect. Some Soldiers can experience life-changing traumatic experiences that change their life in a negative aspect. One of the SHARP program’s purposes is to assist Soldiers and leaders in reaching a level of normalcy again.
If anyone is in a place where they need to talk to someone or report sexual assault or harassment, the Fort Carson SHARP Hotline is operational 24/7, 365 days a year, and can be reached at 719-338-9654. Unit level sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates are also fully equipped and credentialed to assist in sexual assault or harassment matters.
“All of us are always here to help and will do whatever we can to get anyone in need to the proper place that will best help them,” said Muri. “We all come from different backgrounds and have learned different patterns when it comes to relationships and interactions. Our job is to help people understand what is healthy and acceptable in terms of a relationship, whether that be work relationships, romantic relationships, or friendships.”