Fort Bragg leaders try innovative approach to improving sex assault, harassment training

Cumberland County News

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WNCN) — The 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg is trying an innovative approach to improve the Army’s Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention program, known as SHARP.

Soldiers of all ranks were given the opportunity to submit their ideas for improving or changing the response and prevention program.

The top seven ideas were then pitched to command leaders, as well as those with experience dealing with sexual assault and harassment cases.

Sgt. Taylor Knueven was one of the soldiers pitching her ideas Monday.

She says she was sexually assaulted by a higher ranking soldier while she was on a mission last year, and that she was retaliated against by some military members when she reported the incident.

“If we continue to silence ourselves and not speak out because of that reprisal, then we’re never going to change this culture,” Knueven said. “I feel empowered that they gave me the opportunity to present not only my story and took the time to hear it, but that they let me propose my solutions.”

She says units need more transparency, and more diversity is needed when it comes to the people who review cases.

“In my case my aggressor has three males on his board panel, why was there not a female present?” Knueven said. “That’s kind of the idea I pitched to them today.”

First Lt. Alexandria Elison suggested giving victims the option to report cases to people outside of their units, and providing more resources for investigators.

“How are we working to bring trust back into the program so that true victims get the care that they need without being brushed aside with the thought that they might have falsified an account,” Elison said. “I encourage everybody to talk about it with their unit, talk about what you think would make the system better, how do you think that we can improve?”

Staff Sgt. Shameka Dudley proposes using virtual reality technology to create scenarios that build empathy for victims by putting other soldiers in their shoes.

“Create an environment where people feel more comfortable when they realize hey what you’re saying is wrong, it’s uncomfortable for other people,” Dudley said. “Everyone is entitled to a safe working environment and that includes soldiers.”

Second Lt. Hannah Alderete’s idea is to partner with filmmakers from top universities to create a scenario-based training video.

“This film is intended to lead into a discussion so soldiers can really voice their opinions about how they feel about their current work environment, about the culture of where they work at,” Alderete said. “It’s meant for people to ask questions and discuss possible solutions to bring back to their own place of work.”

The ideas pitched during the 18th Airborne Corps’ Dragon’s Lair program will be considered for implementation across 14 installations, and possibly throughout the Army. 

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