JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
U.S. Army South hosted a Sexual Harassment Assault Response Prevention, or SHARP, event at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston April 17.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Edward Wilson, a SHARP advocate and artist, shared lessons he learned from firsthand experience.
“As a youth, I witnessed abuse," Wilson said. "You can either grow up believing that is what love looks like, or you can take that pain from that abuse and choose not to invoke that pain on anyone else and protect others from feeling that pain."
Wilson said this was his motivation for becoming a SHARP advocate.
"I chose to concentrate on advocacy in order to help people to avoid what I saw or to help them deal with things that they are currently dealing with," Wilson said. "My entire life, I have been aware of the pain that can be invoked by abuse, so I chose to use my gift to combat that epidemic. I am a poet and I'm an advocate. I was able to combine those two efforts in support of sexual assault harassment prevention."
Wilson said he believes it is very useful to tell the side of not only the victim but also from the perpetrator's point of view in his poems. It is very important to him that the audience understands the perpetrator's perspective to understand what to watch out for.
"It presents the information in the unique way that grabs attention," he said. "People tend to listen to a message that is delivered in a creative manner."
Rick Williams, U.S. Army South SHARP Program manager, said Wilson is a good example of why SHARP advocates are so important in today's military.
"It is very important that we continue to be better advocates for sexual harassment and sexual assault," Williams said. "If we don’t, it will destroy our ranks. In the words of the Chief of Staff of the Army, 'It is a cancer. We have to do everything that we can to eradicate that cancer.' We need to protect our Soldiers, civilians and family members from events of sexual harassment and sexual assault."
Williams said he is very grateful to have Wilson to speak his poetry to the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Soldiers.
"It is not only a benefit to U.S. Army South, but to JBSA as a whole," Williams said. "We are going to continue using him at our other locations including Joint Task Force-Bravo in Honduras and Guantanamo Bay."
Aside from the poetry being a creative way to present the information, it also has served as a comfort to the individuals who listen to come forward and open up about some things, Wilson added. He said even though he will retire from the Army soon, he plans to continue advocacy through poetry.