Community called to action on domestic violence
October 22, 2009
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Fort Jackson Soldiers, family members and civilians gathered Saturday to take a stand against domestic violence. The post's sixth annual Domestic Violence Awareness Rally started with a march led by the Columbia High School band and concluded with a ceremony at the Solomon Center.
The guest speaker was Henry McMaster, South Carolina attorney general, who has established a corps of special prosecutors for domestic violence cases and has mandated that each county set aside special days to try those cases.
"The most important part is not the structure," McMaster said, referring to those measures. "The most important part is the attitude of the people, just like the most important part is the attitude of the Soldier. You have to have the right attitude to do this job. You have to want the right thing. You have to have courage, you have to have discipline, you have to have training, you have to have leadership. And you've got it in the Army. But we need it in (the fight against) domestic violence."
McMaster emphasized that there is no excuse for domestic violence and said it was up to everyone in the community to stop it.
"I say to everyone: Get involved in this. This is your state. This is your country. Take a stand in the life of your state and your country," he said. "If you see something, say something. There hasn't been a single case of criminal domestic violence in the history of South Carolina that could not have been prevented if some outside person who saw something had said something."
Col. Lillian Dixon, garrison commander, agreed that domestic violence is everyone's business.
"Domestic violence is an offense against our institution of the Army values. One incident is one too many," she said. "Each and every one of us must take a role in prevention. In this crucial issue, no one is an innocent bystander."
Dixon said that unfortunately, domestic violence is a reality in the Army.
"We are a nation at war. And the psychological effects of war can be so damaging, so
invasive and so harmful - it will cause us to hurt those we love the most," she said.
She implored the Soldiers present to take advantage of programs offered by the Army.
"When you are faced with these types of challenges, you have to seek help," she said. "There are a lot of agencies that will help you."
Kimberly Henderson, a family member, attended the rally with her three sons.
"I was a victim of domestic violence in the past, and I thought it was important for my sons to come out and learn more about it," Henderson said. "There are people ... out there who are afraid to come forward. Maybe I can step in and let someone know that there is help. Maybe I can make a difference."
Dixon said she expects everyone in the Fort Jackson community to take action against domestic violence.
"By working together, we continue to build a society that respects the life and dignity of each and every person," she said. "I call on every member of this community to join this campaign."