Updated 12/31 to remove dead links, due to Soldier Betty’s blog setting changed to private, and added text support and clarifying information.
Substantial criticism of 1SG Moerk’s ARCOM was on news feeds and blogs over the weekend. To recap, she encountered an offensive video online, exchanged comments via Facebook on why it was inappropriate, then directly notified Dr. Altendorf, who oversees the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program Army-wide. For ‘defending values’, 1SG Moerk received an ARCOM. “Big Army’ thought it was a great story and published it on several outlets.
While most agree it was appropriate to address the offensive video and comments, there is virtually universal condemnation for not handling this NCO to NCO, and for jumping the chain of command. 1SG Moerk admits she paced the house for three hours, infuriated, and then contacted Dr. Altendorf. The facts that 1SG Moerk felt it appropriate to email Dr. Altendorf, and the email had it’s desired effect – investigations and punishment – is a dangerous precedent. This sends a couple messages; first that SHARP is in such disarray that NCOs really don’t care, plus the message that directly contacting the SHARP Director is acceptable. Does that office have resources to handle such complaints, or did it give 1SG Moerk special consideration?
Rather than using proper channels, the 1SG went directly to what she refers to as her ‘Email Heard Around the Army’. Her description of events:
“Being diplomatic on Facebook was not getting my point across. I looked them up in Global, and decided to send them an email. It was a great piece of work, my email. I cannot tell you how many times I had to delete expletives when referring to these Soldiers. I wanted to jump through the computer and choke them, I was so angry.”
1SG Moerk acted in anger, went directly to the top, and was happy she was able to end careers by leveraging SHARP. While she claims she was not motivated by personal gain, the Email Heard Around the Army and blog post Stepping Into The Light seem to contradict that claim. One other possibility for contacting Dr. Altendorf may have been to draw attention from the highest levels to the units. Regardless, the manner this was handled with a lack of transparency and leadership likely dealt serious setbacks to sexual harassment prevention efforts, which rely on a positive climate and an environment of trust and respect.
Repeating her ‘go-to-the-top’ action over the weekend, when news of her ARCOM was published on TAH 1SG Moerk sent a tweet to CAPE, the SMA and G1. (Twitter account now deleted). However, SFC(R) Lilyea’s article contains no inappropriate material, it’s a blog and he is entitled to write opinions based on facts.
Instead of using the unfortunate circumstances of the video to teach Soldiers, enhance SHARP efforts, and move necessary cultural change forward, 1SG Moerk set out to destroy careers while furthering her own. Perhaps at some point she will self-reflect and understand why she faces such universal condemnation for her actions.