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NEWS | April 3, 2018

Beyond Awareness – Creating a Culture of Trust

By Catherine Carroll

Every April, the 88th Readiness Division, alongside America’s Army Reserve, reaffirms its commitment to ending sexual assault, sexual harassment and retaliation. As one, we stand and say NOT IN OUR ARMY. These are not just words. This is a commitment to action.

“Sexual harassment, sexual assault and retaliation have no place in our Army,” Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Reinert, 88th Readiness Division commanding general, stated during the signing of the Sexual Assault Awareness Month Pledge.

“Stand with me in the effort to end sexual violence in our community, in our military and in our country,” Reinert said. “We must be participants in shaping a culture of trust. We must strive to make real change a reality, to make it more than just something we say and into something we do.”

The IAM Army slogan defines our responsibilities and lays out the actions required to effect change.

When I recognize a threat to my fellow Soldiers, I will have the personal courage to INTERVENE and prevent sexual assault. I will condemn acts of sexual harassment. I will not abide obscene gestures, language, or behavior. I am a Warrior and a member of a team. I will INTERVENE!

You are my brother, my sister, my fellow Soldier. It is my duty to stand up for you, no matter the time or place. I will take ACTION. I will do what’s right. I will prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault. I will not tolerate sexually offensive behavior. I will ACT!
We are American Soldiers, MOTIVATED to keep our fellow Soldiers safe. It is our mission to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault. We will denounce sexual misconduct. As Soldiers, we are all MOTIVATED to take action. We are strongest ... together!
Reinert says sexual assault and sexual harassment destroy trust within an organization, effecting its ability to function as a team.

“Sexual assault can really gut an organization. An organization, military or otherwise, has to work as a team,” Reinert said. “They have to work together. They have to trust each other. They have to trust that every person is going to look out for every other person in the organization and focus on that organizational goal. Sexual assault cuts at the very heart of that.”

Reinert says it is not solely an organizational responsibility to address this issue, he says the commander has an essential role in the fight to end sexual assault and sexual harassment.

“First, they have to take it seriously,” Reinert said. “They have to set the standard for how to treat other people with dignity and respect. It’s not just about what you don’t do, it’s about what you do to actively model good behavior. Making sure every person knows they are a valued member of the team. Enforcing the standards so if someone does commit an act of misconduct they are treated fairly, but efficiently, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Commanders have a responsibility to hold people accountable for their misconduct.”

Reinert goes on to explain how trust includes knowing where to go and he says further harm can occur if reporting systems fail.

“If you don’t have a robust reporting system that everyone trusts, people don’t know where to go,” Reinert said. “When victims of sexual harassment and assault don’t have anywhere to turn to, that can lead to secondary issues. It can lead to further assaults, depression, drug abuse and the individuals’ life can spin out of control. And it undercuts the moral and functioning of the organization as a whole.”

Reinert says that when trust in an organization is lost it effects everyone’s ability to focus on the mission.

“If we have sexual harassment or a sexual assault take place and a Soldier or Civilian no longer feels safe doing their job or isn’t able to do their job effectively,” Reinert said, “we have really wasted our most precious resource. The units have to be ready to go to the field to do its mission to engage in close combat with the enemy and you can’t do that if you’re always having to look over your shoulder because someone might commit a crime against you.”

The 88th Readiness Division is committed to eliminating sexual assault and harassment from our Army and has reporting systems securely in place. Reinert says the most valuable asset an organization can have is the trust of its Soldiers, Civilians, family members and communities.

“Awareness is key, but it is not enough,” Reinert stated. “We must use our awareness to motivate action and maintain trust. We will intervene! We will act! We will motivate!

“April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month,” Reinert said, “but each day of the year is an opportunity to build a culture of trust.”

For more information on Sexual Harassment Assault and Prevention visit

To speak to a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator call the DoD Safe Helpline 24/7 at 877-995-5247, Ft. McCoy Sexual Assault Hotline at 608-388-3000 and 608-388-5000 or contact MSG Michael Bowman, 88th Readiness Division Victim Advocate (VA) at 608-388-0485.