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.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, SHARP officials will release the new training virtually in the coming weeks.
Guidance under the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act followed by a memorandum from the undersecretary of defense in early 2020 expanded the policy and provided additional guidance for victim support, Londagin said Jan. 7.
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.
The Army also released an all Army activities message, or ALARACT, in November to provide additional SHARP program guidance related to the transfer policy, she said.
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.
Recent provisions to the 2021 NDAA amended the time for an expedited transfer decision from 72 hours to five calendar days, she added. 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.
Once an individual is approved for transfer, the losing brigade commander must ensure a proper handoff before transferring the individual to their gaining unit. The gaining commander will receive information about the individual's condition, including a list of scheduled medical or behavioral health appointments, ongoing legal actions, and other personnel-related details if applicable.
Soldiers who want more information about the expedited transfer process can review ALARACT 95-2020 and Army Regulations 614-100 and 614-200 on the Army Publishing Directorate website. Personnel can also request information by contacting the Army Human Resources Command Service Center at 1-800-582-5552.
"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."