By Staff Sgt. Erica Picariello
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
According to 2009 Department of Defense data, almost 2 million U.S. service members have been deployed since the 9/11 attacks. With this deployment tempo increase, more American military members have returned home with visible scars and psychological trauma.
There are other casualties of war that may not have served on the front lines, but had to endure their own war on terror.
“I sense that the steady climb in domestic violence and abuse may coincide with the return of military members who bring home physical and psychological battle wounds along with life transitions such as reintegration, lack of social support and the economy, along with the possible changes in roles and responsibilities,” said T. Martina Porter, 21st Medical Group family advocacy outreach manager.
The Domestic Violence Resource center states that as many as 600,000 women and 100,000 men are victims of domestic violence each year.
“Anybody can be a victim of domestic violence,” said Capt. Dawn Scovel, 21 MDG family advocacy officer. “Domestic violence does not discriminate against race, religion, gender, etc. It can occur anywhere, anytime, anyplace to anyone.”
Though the statistics seem worrying, Schriever AFB, partnered with Peterson’s 21 MDG, has programs available to provide assistance to anyone victimized by domestic violence.
“The Air Force Family Advocacy Programs have many similar resources, and every base has a Family Advocacy Program,” Captain Scovel said. “However, not all bases have access to domestic violence shelters, although we are fortunate to have great shelters here in the Colorado Springs area. Also, the Family Advocacy Program has prevention-oriented programs and these services are available to both active duty members and their families. Off-base resources and services vary depending on the city you live in.”
One on-base resource is the Military and Family Life Counselor.
According to the Schriever Force Support Squadron website, the MFLC program addresses issues that occur across the military lifestyle, and helps service members and their families cope with normal reactions to these stressful events. Consultants provide short-term, situational, problem-solving counseling services to members and their families. These services differ from traditional Mental Health services because they are focused on short-term solutions verses a longer-term relationship with a counselor.
“A MFLC counselor is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Thea Wasche, 50 FSS deputy director. “All MFLCs are licensed and credentialed providers who have undergone a criminal history background check. With the exception of mandatory reporting requirements, counseling is private and confidential.”
For some, it might not be easy mustering up the courage to speak about their situation. Some may be outside the situation, looking in, and at a loss for how to help in a domestic violence situation.
“If you suspect a friend is in an abusive relationship, talk to the person in private and let him or her know that you’re concerned,” Ms. Porter said. “Point out the things you’ve noticed that make you worried. Tell the person that you’re there, whenever he or she feels ready to talk. Reassure the person that you’ll keep whatever is said between the two of you and let them know that you’ll help in any way you can. Therefore, listen to them; believe in them; do not minimize their struggle; do not judge them; do not blame them; but assure them that they are doing the right thing.”
Confronting a friend can be scary, but in a society steeped in loyalty, some also fear the repercussions of administrative action.
“The Family Advocacy Program is a non-punitive agency,” Ms. Porter said. “The program does not administer consequences and punishments. The goal of the Family Advocacy Program is to identify a problem in a family, and if there is one, to prevent it from happening in the future. Active duty members and their families often hesitate to seek help due to the stigma that Family Advocacy will ruin their career and sometimes their life. Victims of domestic violence have no career impact through the Family Advocacy Program.”
Air Force programs like Family Advocacy and the MFLC not only aim to treat the outcome of domestic violence, but strive for prevention and safety for the Air Force’s most valuable resource, it’s people.
“The main reason to report domestic violence is to ensure safety,” Captain Scovel said. “Safety is our number one concern. Speak up if you suspect domestic or intimate partner violence. If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you’re hesitating telling yourself that it’s none of your business, you might be wrong or the person might not want to talk about it, keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save their life.”
If you or someone you know has become a victim of domestic violence or abuse, contact the Peterson Family Advocacy Program at 556-8943 or TESSA (El Paso county at 633-1460) for support and guidance.
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