Domestic abuse has no place in Army
Maj. Gen. James Milano is Fort Jackson's commanding general.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- When it comes to acts of domestic violence, there are no excuses. Long hard days at work, difficult deployments, career gridlock, financial woes, relationship problems. None of these issues remotely qualifies itself as a reason to physically assault or mentally abuse your spouse, child or anyone in your family.

Fort Jackson's policy on domestic violence is no different than the policy that prevails across the Army - zero tolerance. It will not be tolerated. Domestic violence is an offense against our institutional and Army values, not to mention a crime. We should live our Army values and adhere to our high standards and personal discipline regardless of whether we are on duty or at home. We serve as Soldiers 24 hours per day and seven days per week. It is our duty to help prevent these ugly crimes.

Our policy is straightforward, but the problem remains. Acts of domestic violence still occur, sometimes right under our eyes, and the problem is far from being eradicated. It could be happening next door, or down the block from where you live. It might involve a friend, a co-worker, a sister, a brother, or you could even be the victim or perpetrator.

According to statistics compiled by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, approximately 1.3 million women are physically assaulted by an intimate partner each year. Anywhere between 3.3 million and 10 million children witness these assaults. One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Closer to home, last year in South Carolina, there were approximately 4,400 domestic violence victims who received shelter and more than 28,500 victims who were treated.

Despite the fact that most acts of domestic violence are classified as offenses under the United States Code, the Uniform Code of Military Justice and state laws, the majority of these crimes are never reported to authorities. Domestic violence, which often involves criminal acts, seriously undermines our efforts to strengthen the Army family. We constantly seek to enrich the quality of life of our families, not to destroy its fabric.

We, as members of the Army family, face unique challenges and specific struggles that ordinary civilian families never experience. The Army understands what these additional stress factors can do in a relationship. Again, these types of circumstances are no excuse for domestic abuse.

One of the problems that we have - which almost seems unfathomable - is that abusive situations are sometimes difficult to recognize, especially if they are happening to you. However, there are many signals and patterns to indicate that you or someone is in an abusive relationship.

The Army has a host of community services to assist those with stress from relationships, finances and other factors. Some of these services include Financial Readiness, Employment Readiness, New Parent Support, Stress and Anger Management, Victim Advocacy, Social Work Services, the Exceptional Family Member Program, and Family Life Chaplain Services. Reporting options are also available for those who have been victimized to include the right to seek services confidentially.

One thing that we all need to remain clear on is that it is required by regulation that commanders report allegations of abuse involving their Soldiers. It is also mandatory that all installation law enforcement officials, school personnel, and Child and Youth Support Services personnel, report information about spouse and/or child abuse.

If you know of someone who needs information on how to report this crime or needs information about any of the many services that the Army offers, please have her or him contact Family Advocacy at 751-6325.

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Page last updated Wed October 6th, 2010 at 15:00