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McDonald Challenges Commanders, Leaders To End Sexual Assault

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FORT SILL Okla_ Fort Sill's Commanding General has put out a call to end sexual assault and harassment on post.

General Mark McDonald said that kind of behavior is unacceptable, and won't be tolerated at Fort Sill. The Fires Center of Excellence participated in an Army-wide stand-down Tuesday, an effort involving military and civilian personnel. The stand-down was part of the military's Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention program.

There will be a lot of changes both short and long term happening on post.

7News Reporter Sara Whaley tracked down a former Fort Sill Command Sergeant Major to get his perspective. CSM Anthony Williams worked on Fort Sill between 1997 and 2001. He doesn't remember sexual assault being a problem then, but he understands how it could be now, given it happens in society.

"There is always something that comes up at different times," Williams said. "I can say the army hasn't had an issue or problem that it hasn't had the ability to solve itself."

Solving this problem starts with leadership. General McDonald gathered all leaders on post over a week ago. He wanted to fire them up about the seriousness of sexual assault. He said, "Sexual assault and harassment are contrary to army values, and we are committed to eliminating it from within our ranks."

Tuesday, McDonald relayed that same message to everyone on post in the stand-down.

"250 soldiers and civilians will be trained to serve as victim advocates," McDonald said. "That's about one per unit. On top of caring for victims, they'll train their personnel and monitor the unit as a whole, ensuring professional standards are enforced."

They'll also man a 24-hour sexual assault hotline. It's a place people can call to report an incident and get information or advice. Williams said he trusts in these steps wholeheartedly.

"I think that soldiers will understand that leaders are trying to put measures in place to protect them," Williams said. "I think that they will respond in a positive way."

All soldiers, leaders and government civilians will also have an annual three-hour interactive training session. It will be mandatory and focus primarily on response and prevention of sexual assault.  

We have tried to interview General McDonald about sexual assault and harassment several times in the past month but have not gotten the opportunity as of yet.

 

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