By Tammie S. Moore
Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. – Gia Alves, the new Fort George G. Meade victim advocate, is ready to support individuals who experienced sexual harassment or assault through their healing process, Jan. 13, 2022. She has more than eight years of experience filling a variety of sexual harassment and assault response and prevention roles. (U.S. Army photo by Tammie S. Moore)
New Fort Meade victim advocate promotes working together, support
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. – The new year at Fort George G. Meade began with the arrival of a new sexual harassment/assault response and prevention program victim advocate.
Gia Alves has more than eight years of experience filling a variety of sexual harassment/assault response and prevention roles.
She served as a sexual assault prevention coordinator for two years before retiring from the U.S. Army in 2021. Prior to her role as a program coordinator, Alves spent six years as a victim advocate and program trainer for various Army units.
After retirement, Alves pondered what the next phase of her life would entail. She decided she wanted to continue serving the Department of Defense community, while providing support to survivors of sexual assault and harassment.
“I felt there was no better path than to continue service in the capacity of sexual assault/sexual harassment position for those in need of a voice when they don’t have their own,” Alves said.
While Alves is the only garrison victim advocate, she is part of a larger Fort Meade sexual harassment/assault prevention and response network. Each of the DoD tenant organizations on post have assigned victim advocates.
“The program is united,” she said. “All services fall under the same umbrella. We all work together to ensure victims are receiving the best services possible. A victim can report to any branch of the service, no matter what their service is. We work together for the good of the client.”
Senior DoD leaders created a tiered implementation road map to improve the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program with a focus on accountability, prevention, climate and culture, and victim care and support to better serve survivors.
The tiered change, which was implemented Sept. 2, 2021, allows government civilians to make unrestricted sexual assault and harassment reports. The unrestricted report generates an investigation into the incident. It also allows government civilians access to the program resources and support services.
“We have a hub of resources,” Alves said. “We coordinate with the agencies to get them the immediate- and long-term care they need. We inform clients of their reporting options and their rights. We provide professional advocacy services by conducting assessments with the clients to determine their individual needs.”
The supporting services include, but are not limited to, care at Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center, access to medical providers, counselors, chaplains, special victim advocates, Army Community Services, and the Family Advocacy Program. When unrestricted reports are made the team can also coordinate with law enforcement, the criminal investigation branch legal, and other post agencies. In addition, when unrestricted reporting takes place, a victim advocate can help with obtaining protection orders.
“We can also link them to safe shelters,” Alves said. “We can accompany victims to medical treatment and court hearings. We do whatever we can for the unit and our victims working with our resources”
According to Alves, the bottom line is that across the installation victim advocates are here to help.
“We are not here to judge, we are just here to guide you through the process and to a healthy path of recovery,” Alves said. “You are not alone. We really do care, there should not be a fear factor in coming to us.”
The DoD will continue to roll out road map changes through 2030. These changes range from providing survivors non-chargeable leave to focus on recovery to removing prosecution from the change of command.
“We will build back the trust of our personnel through demonstrable progress, clear and enduring implementation mechanisms, increased transparency, and continued senior leader involvement,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in a memo accompanying the road map.
To read more about the road map, click here DoD Actions and Implementation to Address Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in the Military (defense.gov).
To reach a victim advocate on Fort Meade, call the 24/7 helpline at 443-845-0876. Assistance can also be provided 24/7 through the DoD Safe Hotline at 877-995-5247.