Fort Stewart - Domestic violence is a national problem that cuts across socioeconomic, age, gender, ethnic, racial and cultural lines. National statistics reveal that it affects more than 4 million people a year, with almost 17,000 of them murdered by an intimate partner and an estimated 2,000 children dying at the hands of a caregiver. The FBI reports that people are more likely to be assaulted in their own homes by someone they know and trust than on the street by a stranger. Typically, the injuries are more devastating. But domestic violence isn't always physical. It can be more subtle: emotional, psychological or economic. Regardless of its form, it hurts individuals, ruins families and weakens communities.

The military faces the same challenges as society at large, particularly in light of the high operational tempo and the strain it puts on service members as well as their families. As a result of the multiple deployments and hardships associated with Afghanistan and Iraq, large amounts of the military especially our combat forces and their families are under astonishing stress. This comes with consequences, including more anxiety and disruption inflicted on children, increased domestic conflict and a related rising divorce rate which in the case of Army enlisted has nearly doubled since the wars began and, most tragically, a growing number of suicides.

There are a number of programs addressing all these issues, including domestic violence. The Department of Defense is stepping up its outreach to remind the military community about programs in place to prevent domestic violence and to ensure people know what where to turn if they experience or witness it.

The Family Advocacy Program is responsible for addressing violence in military families through prevention, early identification, intervention, victim support and treatment for abusers. The program's staff members work with commanders, military law enforcement personnel, medical staff and family center staffers and chaplains, as well as civilian agencies, to provide a coordinated response to domestic abuse. To protect those who might otherwise not file a report, the Family Advocacy Program allows people to submit a "restricted report," officials explained, to report domestic abuse by a service member without initiating a law enforcement or command notification or investigation.

Many Military installations are highlighting these programs and options with their own National Domestic Violence Awareness Month campaigns, and Fort Stewart is no different. Last year the Family Advocacy Program hosted numerous events post wide for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, such as the Cops and Coffee, TPO Workshop, Domestic Violence Proclamation Signing, Simmer Down Chili Cook-Off, Paint the Marne Purple Pet Walk, and Pageant with a Purpose. Be on the lookout for these events again this year.

If you are the victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, please call Army Community Service Victim Advocacy Program at (Stewart) 912-767-3032 or (Hunter) 912-315-5343. An advocate is available to you 24/7.
The Family Advocacy Program (FAP) offers classes on couple's communication, parenting classes and much more. For more information on FAP and the classes offered, please call 912-767-2882 FS or 912-315-6816 HAAF.