The Army plans to roll out new training in support of the expedited transfer policy that provides streamlined and necessary support to Soldiers and adult dependents who are victims of sexual assault.
Under the policy, sexual assault victims can request a move to a new unit or installation if their current environment is impacting their safety or emotional well-being or the command’s ability to function, said Jill Londagin, director of the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program.
Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy recently directed all senior commanders to complete additional expedited transfer training no later than March 31. The secretary also mandated improved case management training for all SHARP personnel.
The move identified a critical list of responsibilities for all losing and gaining commanders and SHARP personnel to ensure that Soldiers and adult dependents have the best chance for success during their recovery process, Londagin added.
Information about the expedited transfer policy will soon be available to all Soldiers as part of the Army SHARP annual refresher training requirement, Londagin said.
Under the policy, sexual assault response coordinators must provide victims’ advocacy support, facilitate appointments with behavioral health and medical professionals, and connect an individual with advocacy or legal services. SARCs will also conduct a series of non-clinical safety assessments to ensure an individual’s well-being throughout the process.
Brigade commanders are responsible for tracking all expedited transfers and have the authority to approve or disapprove a request, Londagin said.
“Expedited transfers can bring some normalcy back to the victim,” said Chinita Reid-Latson, Fort Belvoir’s Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. “And it has now expanded to allow the Service member whose adult dependent makes the allegation. Also, if the command team is aware, or receives a request for transfer, they must now immediately notify the SARC of the transfer request. In order to get an extradited transfer, it has to be an unrestricted report filed with the SARC.”
Londagin said recent provisions to the 2021 NDAA amended the time for an expedited transfer decision from 72 hours to five calendar days. This change offers victims more time to make a decision if they want to request a transfer and gives SHARP personnel additional time to line up adequate support.
“All expedited transfers are reviewed on a case-by-case basis,” Londagin said. “There are cases when a Soldier has a pending [Uniform Code of Military Justice], medical or administrative action that a command has to consider before they grant an expedited transfer request.”
Londagin acknowledged the expedited transfer process could create a potential issue in low-density career fields or vacate a duty position critical to mission accomplishment. However, she said the Army and SHARP program must continue to put people first by prioritizing the individual’s needs over mission requirements.
“People are the Army’s top priority,” Londagin said. “This policy reinforces the Army’s commitment to eliminate sexual assault and sexual harassment from our formations. Acting on a Soldier’s request for expedited transfer is an important component of a leader’s response in supporting victims of sexual assault.”
Fort Belvoir 24/7 Sexual Harassment Hotline is 703-740-7029. For more information go to https://www.armyresilience.army.mil/sharp/.