|"The two most important days in your life are: the day you were born, and the day you find out why." ~Mark Twain|
FORT JACKSON, S.C. — Some of Fort Jackson’s Soldiers got the chance last week to test their acting skills.
But their film will be aimed at education, not entertainment.
A video production crew tapped Fort Jackson’s leaders and Soldiers to help make a video aimed at preventing sexual assault.
Shawn Jirik, project manager for Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP, said that the video will be used in teaching new recruits and drill sergeants various ways to prevent sexual assault on post.
“It is targeted so Soldiers know exactly what sexual assault is and how serious the Army is about its zero-tolerance rule,” Jirik said.
The production crew visited several locations to film the video, including the Drill Sergeant School, 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment barracks and the 187th Ordnance Battalion field exercise training site. The crew even filmed part of last week’s graduation as part of the video.
Roy Behr, president of the California-basedBehr Communications, the company responsible for producing the video, said it is important to show new recruits from Day One, how serious the Army takes sexual assault.
“The (Office of the Secretary of Defense) made the video top priority, which represents how serious the office takes (sexual assault),” Behr said.
Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Gomez, 165th Infantry Brigade, served as the liaison between Behr Communications and Fort Jackson. He said that the video is a great tool for Soldiers, especially young Soldiers about to start their career in the Army.
By design, the video will only feature new recruits and drill sergeants because drill sergeants have a special role in training new recruits, and it is best to get the message about preventing sexual assault from peers, Behr said.
Fort Jackson was chosen as the production location for several reasons, Jirik said. The installation was one of two Army training facilities considered, and geographically, Fort Jackson was more desirable, She added. Also, the level of support from the installation was a significant factor in deciding to shoot the video here.
“Every request has been too easy…the installation has been incredible,” Jirik said.
The Soldiers participating have also been helpful, She said.
“Soldiers are very willing to share their story, and they have (compelling stories) to tell,” Jirik said.
Behr shared a similar sentiment.
“We had the full support of Fort Jackson’s commanding general, Brig. Gen. Bradley May, who was adamant about supporting the program,” Behr said.
Behr said that the biggest messages of the video are that the Army takes sexual assault very seriously, and Soldiers who sexually assault fellow Soldiers are harming the victim, themselves and the Army as a whole.
The level of support displayed during the video production shows that a lot of Soldiers feel that way. Behr said his team was also interviewing Soldiers to get their individual perspectives.
Rachel Rednik, vice president of Behr Communications, said that one of the most memorable interviews was with a Soldier who intervened before a sexual assault situation escalated.
“He stepped in when his friend (a Soldier) was sexually harassing someone, and prevented people from getting hurt. Not only did he help the victim, but he also helped his friend who could have ruined his Army career,” said Rednik.
It was important, she said, because harassment is common.
Fort Jackson Soldiers seemed eager to participate in making the videos.
“I feel like I’m doing a good thing. I had a friend back home who was sexually assaulted, and I don’t want it to happen to anyone else,” said Pvt. Jesse Smith, Company B, 187th Ord. Bn.
The video is expected to be available by early next year.