Fort Leonard Wood soldiers took a pledge, using their hand prints lining a corridor, to end harassment.
Training is the primary focus for the 701st Military Police Battalion.
Training includes basic military police tactics, basic Army skills and keeping Soldiers aware of issues in today’s society and the Army, such as sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Soldiers were given the opportunity to address the latter Feb. 2 during SHARP training, where they heard from a nationally renowned speaker, poet and sexual assault survivor, Olivia Gatwood.
“The phrase ‘boys will be boys’ is not only hurtful to men, but to women,” Gatwood said. “You have the power to stand up to this frame of thought and protect your colleagues from assault.”
Gatwood focused her remarks on having the strength to stand up to the belief that sexual assault is a form of ordinary nature all across the country and to lead by example. Sexual assault has many faces, Gatwood said, and it is vital that we approach each and every one of them in order to grasp and tackle the academic issues in front of us.
“We spend so much time teaching our daughters how not to be raped, but not enough time teaching our sons not to rape,” she said.
Pvt. Christina Inhl, Company E, 701st Military Police Battalion Soldier, said she is happy the Army is creating new ways to prevent sexual assault and it is empowering to hear the story of a female who has overcome her fears.
After listening to Gatwood, Soldiers in Co. E. returned to their company headquarters, where they were given the opportunity to take the sexual assault prevention pledge. Individually signed handprints line the right side of the corridor wall outside of their company classroom.
The handprints are teal in color and are found below a painted teal ribbon, representing the national color of sexual assault awareness.
According to Capt. Edward McHenry, Co. E commander, the reason for the location of the wall is so Soldiers can be reminded of their pledge as they use the hall on a daily basis.
“When the Soldiers see the handprints on a daily basis, sexual assault awareness becomes real to them,” he said. “The wall is in place not only to bring awareness, but to give them the opportunity to act upon the pledge they took when signing those handprints.”
Pvt. Jake Alanriccio, Co. E, 701st Military Police Battalion, was one of many Soldiers who took the pledge to stand against sexual assault by signing his name on the wall.
“After signing my own name on that wall, I feel a part of the program now that has been helping people for years,” Alanriccio said. “I feel the need to act upon a situation in which someone was being sexually harassed and stop the act, then protect the victim until the proper authorities arrived.”
Inhl added seeing her own name on the wall made it more real that they are all part of a team in preventing sexual assaults from happening.
According to Lt. Col. Mandi Bohrer, 701st Military Police Battalion commander, the training expands the meaning of training and awareness beyond a typical briefing.
“The combination of the class, having a survivor speak, taking a pledge and signing their commitment to the pledge on the SHARP wall, makes the trainees active participants in multiple ways,” she said.
“Plus, the wall is a daily visual reminder of their commitment to be part of the solution,” Bohrer added.