FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWTI) — Sexual violence in the military is on the rise.

Recent data from the Department of Defense in 2021 showed a 13% annual increase in sexual assault reports in the military. In the Army specifically, reports of sexual assault increased by 25.6% from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2021.

This rise has also been seen locally at the Fort Drum military installation, according to Melissa Pickney, who is the 10th Mountain Division Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention Team program manager.

“We have seen from FY22, an increase from FY21,” Pickney explained. “Sexual violence is something that is a public health issue and it impacts everyone from every walk of life.”

As the Army has the highest rate of sexual violence across all military branches, the 10th Mountain Division’s SHARP Program has continued to assist victims and survivors.

The SHARP Program provides numerous services to respond to crisis situations, advocate for victims and prevent incidents from happening.

Sergeant First Class Roxanne Nissen is the 10th Mountain Division’s lead sexual assault response coordinator.

“Any soldier or dependent 18 years or older can come to our office,” SFC Nissen explained. “If somebody would need a sexual assault forensic exam, we can help them set that up. If they would like legal assistance, we have what is called a special victims unit.”

These services are provided through trained civilians and soldiers who are trained through SHARP to be victim advocates or sexual assault response coordinators.

This allows SHARP to assist military commanders in the prevention and response to sexual harassment, sexual assault and associated incidents.

“Our military partners work alongside our civilian partners that are within the program,” Pickney expressed. “One does not go without the other. Many times when we deploy, and go to various locations that may not allow civilian partners to go. So we need to have those military partners that are able to do so.”

SHARP also provides information training to every active-duty and civilian employee on the Fort Drum military base.

Pickney said this approach aims to prevent incidents and empower victims in the surrounding military community.

“All of our advocates have a passion for helping others,” she shared. “In that sense, we’re here to support you along the way and in your journey. No matter what it may look like for you. We’re here to help you just navigate those channels.”

The 10th Mountain Division SHARP Office is located in Building 10013, South Riva Ridge Loop, Fort Drum, New York.

  • Division Sharp Office
    • (315) 774-2196
    • (315) 774-2728
    • (315) 774-2143
  • Fort Drum SHARP Hotline
    • (315) 767-6128
  • DoD Safe Helpline
    • 1 (877) 995-5247

The National Sexual Assault Hotline provides free support at 1-800-656-4673. A chat option is also available on the organizations website. The hotline is operated by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), a national anti-sexual violence organization.