Ft. Sill Commander Addresses Growing Sexual Assaults

Published: Oct. 9, 2013 at 6:58 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 16, 2013 at 3:01 PM CDT
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FORT SILL Okla_ Top leaders at Ft. Sill met Wednesday to have an open and candid discussion regarding sexual assaults and harassments and the policies in place to make sure no crime goes unreported.

Over the past two years, Major General Mark McDonald said there have been about 50 cases of sexual assault and harassment. Wednesday's seminar with top leaders came months before new initiatives set forth by the Department of Defense will take effect. In August, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel outlined several new initiatives to reduce the amount of sexual harassment in the military.

That's what Ft. Sill's SHARP program is geared at doing.

"We have a problem in the United States Army," McDonald said. "We have rapes that occur: rapes by soldiers, rapes against soldiers. We have to take action to stop this."

MG McDonald takes these crimes very seriously.

"Sexual assault is any type of contact for sexual gratification," McDonald said. "It could be a brush, a bump, all the way up to a brutal rape."

Wednesday's meeting was closed to cameras, because McDonald wanted leaders on post to be able to engage in a truthful and open exchange.

"It's a really frank issue on some really tough issues," McDonald said.

They are issues he believes happen too often. When they do happen, he wants to make sure they're reported and the victim gets the attention and services he or she needs as soon as possible.

"This is about taking care of our soldiers, so it's extremely important," McDonald said.

More than 200 senior leaders were in attendance for Wednesday's seminar, and another one is scheduled for Thursday for enlisted soldiers. In the event a soldier is harassed or assaulted, they can report to one of nearly 300 SHARP advocates or representatives. They're able to receive services such as counseling and medical treatment.