Va. Army Guard hosts SHARP certification course at Camp Pendleton

Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers pose for a photo outside Hurt Hall following their successful completion of an 80-hour Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention certification training program Sept. 27 at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va. (Courtesy photo)

Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers pose for a photo outside Hurt Hall following their successful completion of an 80-hour Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention certification training program Sept. 27 at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va. (Courtesy photo)

CAMP PENDLETON, Va. — More than 50 Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers from 13 states attended an 80-hour U.S. Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention certification training program hosted by the Virginia Army National Guard Sept. 16-27 at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va.

The class introduced Soldiers to the SHARP program and prepared them to fulfill their duties as SHARP representatives.

“We’re training people to be professional care providers and victim’s advocates,” explained Command Sgt. Maj. Henry Motley, the Virginia National Guard Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Coordinator. “They start from scratch and have no experience so we introduce them to everything.”

It was the third time the Virginia Guard has hosted the course at Camp Pendleton and Motley plans to host another one in April 2014.

“Camp Pendleton and Virginia Beach have a lot to offer,” Motley said. “It provides good quality training sites, easy access, and is very safe. We have sleeping quarters and classrooms right there and plenty of eating places nearby.”

The course attendees included 47 enlisted Soldiers, 11 officers and one warrant officer. Eleven of the 59 Soldiers attending the course were from the Virginia Army National Guard. Although it’s also open to active duty Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians, only Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers participated in this course.

Sharp_logoSoldiers who attend the course are appointed by their commander to the SHARP program. They must first go through a background check and be interviewed.

“They are also are made fully aware that this commitment is 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Motley said. “You can get called anytime, day or night, to respond. They’re the first-line care for victims of sexual assault.”

Not only do Soldiers attending the course learn what sexual harassment is and what sexual assault is, they also learn about prevention, how to handle a victim of sexual assault and how to provide resources to them, according to Motley. They also learn how to get victims the legal help they need and how to help them with their medial issues.

“Sexual assault touches everyone, not just the victim,” Motley said. “It touches families, Soldiers and communities, as well as the victim.”

Active duty Army instructors taught the course and subject matter experts from the Virginia Guard and elsewhere were brought in to address specific topics.

“Our main goal is to get professional, quality, victims’ advocates in the field and set them up for success,” Motley said. “This gives them the basics. It’s going to take years of seasoning before they are experts. But they will continue to gain knowledge and get better as they gain experience.”