2014-05-02 / Community Events

Sexual assault awareness, prevention is ongoing

By Laura Levering
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Robert Shadley addresses service members during the SAAM command program April 24 at Alexander Hall. Shadley emphasized the importance making sexual assault awareness an ongoing campaign that everybody has a responsibility to take part in. 
Photo by Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Robert Shadley addresses service members during the SAAM command program April 24 at Alexander Hall. Shadley emphasized the importance making sexual assault awareness an ongoing campaign that everybody has a responsibility to take part in. Photo by Laura Levering / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Sexual Assault Awareness Month officially ended Wednesday, but its relevance is far from over.

“ We continue to be committed to ending sexual violence,” said Sgt. 1st Class Toni Nelson, installation sexual assault response coordinator. “While we continue to work hard throughout the year, this month provided us opportunities to enhance awareness.”

Fort Gordon closed out the month-long campaign with a SAAM command program April 24, at Alexander Hall. The program featured guest speaker Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Robert Shadley.

Shadley’s served in key leadership positions throughout his 33-year military career, including chief of ordnance and commanding general of the U.S. Army Ordnance Center and Schools, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in 1995. During his tenure, Shadley uncovered one of the military’s worst sexual assault scandals to date.

“Since then, Maj. Gen. Shadley has been a strong opponent of military sexual assaults by means of consulting, media outreach and speaking engagements,” said Maj. Gen. LaWarren Patterson, U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon commanding general.

During investigations, Shadley alleged that drill sergeants and other high ranking military officials were using rank to receive sexual favors from junior Soldiers and competed to see who could sleep with the most trainees. The competition became known as “game a la military,” or “the GAM.” Shadley highlighted these findings in his book, “The GAMe: Unraveling a Military Sex Scandal.” Those discoveries led to an Army-wide investigation of sexual harassment and prompted an ongoing campaign to prevent sexual assault in the military.

“Some of this is still relevant today, but some things have changed for the better,” Shadley said. “The big difference today is senior leadership acknowledges the problem is widespread across military installations.”

Preventing sexual assault begins with effective leadership but is everybody’s responsibility.

“Good Soldiers don’t let bad things happen,” Shadley said. “If we’re going to eradicate this from our military, then it’s up to each of us.”

Shadley said the key to resolving sexual assault is to identify the victim. It can also be the most challenging step, especially in the military, when a subordinate’s trust is breached within their chain of command and feels they have nowhere to go. That is why it’s critical to have victim advocates, he explained.

Once the victim comes forward, the perpetrator can be more easily identified. Throughout the process, the victim needs to be No. 1 priority, and the perpetrator should be punished to the fullest extent. Shadley believes the military has an obligation to discharge perpetrators from the military to keep them from committing the crimes. Keeping them would have a negative impact on mission readiness and overall performance.

While SAAM posters and events diminish for the year, Sgt. 1st Class Vincent Johnson reminds everyone to treat it as a daily event.

“There must be continued training, and we must take a hands-on approach to ensuring the community understands the (Sexual Harassment/ Assault Response and Prevention) campaign must be taken seriously for it to continue to transcend to a level where sexual assault and harassment is unacceptable in our Armed Forces,” said Johnson, SHARP instructor, 369th Signal Battalion.

Lt. Col. Curtis Iden, commander, 369th Signal Bn., deemed the campaign a success made possible by countless leaders, service members and civilians committed to eradicating sexual assault and harassment.

“Only by working together as an Army family will we be able to prevent and defeat this continuous threat to our forces,” Iden said.

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