In case you were wondering if the U.S. military is more focused on combat than promoting political correctness, here’s a story to show you where their priorities truly lie.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and senior Army officials met with a senior non-commissioned officer Dec 15 to thank her for leading by example and defending Army values, despite facing harassment after confronting Service members who were behaving unethically online.
First Sgt. Katrina Moerk, now the first sergeant of Charlie Company, 741st Military Intelligence Battalion, was browsing a social media network’s community page earlier this year, when she came upon a video that she found offensive and sexist. When she commented as much, several respondents attacked her with insults. Some of these respondents were wearing uniforms in their profile photos, the first sergeant said, so she wrote to them directly.
“I looked them up, introduced myself and explained to them why they were stupid. And I [copied] the director of the Army SHARP program to help their units improve their SHARP training, because it was obviously lacking. And it’s kind of blown up from there,” Moerk said.
SHARP is the acronym for the military’s Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention program.
Things died down online, she said, but Dr. Christine Altendorf, the SHARP director, brought Moerk’s email to the attention of Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, then the Army’s deputy chief of staff for personnel. Shortly thereafter, the Army launched three administrative investigations, because Soldiers from three separate major commands were involved, either through producing the video or making inappropriate comments.
“Everyone was kind of pulled to the carpet and called in, and training changed,” the first sergeant said.
For her willingness to stand up and defend Army values, Moerk received an Army Commendation Medal from Lt. Gen. James C. McConville, who succeeded Bromberg as the Army’s personnel chief, during a ceremony Monday, at the Pentagon.
“What she did is the epitome of being an NCO and a Soldier, and of course a leader,” said Command Sgt. Maj Leslie Hudson, the 741st Military Intelligence Battalion senior enlisted adviser. “I think that Soldiers out there can learn from the example that she set, and I think that she has set the standard for what leaders are expected to do.”
“Leading by Example” indeed. Thank You Military!