Help available for abuse victims, families

By Franklin FisherMay 22, 2014

Help available for abuse victims, families
At an October 2013 event at Camp Casey marking the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a member of the Army Family Advocacy Program briefs an audience of Area I community members, including Soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division, on the impact... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP RED CLOUD -- If a member of the Area I community were to ever face domestic violence, sexual assault or child abuse, they could get prompt and expert help from the staff of the Army's Family Advocacy Program at Camp Casey.

The staffers are trained to help victims in reporting the abuse, in having it investigated, and in providing treatment and other forms of intervention. They are also trained to help parents meet the challenges of raising children who have physical or psychological disabilities or who are expecting a first child or have children age 3 or younger.

To do this, Family Advocacy uses seminars, groups, workshops, instructional briefings for military units, home visits, counseling and intervention services.

Family Advocacy provides its services through several main components: the Victim Advocacy Services Program; Transitional Compensation Program; Abandoned Military Spouse Hotline; New Parent Support Program; and the Exceptional Family Member Program.

"We work together with law enforcement, with health care, with legal services, to bring all these resources to the families," said Leslie Hall, Area I Family Advocacy Program manager.

"Abuse in any form impacts military readiness and military values," she said. "That's why we're here. We want to help everybody succeed, and intervention is the key and prevention is the key, rather than reacting."

Family Advocacy is on Camp Casey in building 2451, which houses Army Community Service.

Should an abuse victim want help but not want to trigger an official investigation by coming forward, the Family Advocacy Program is authorized to handle the matter without reporting it to the military chain of command or law enforcement authorities, said Hall.

And staff are ready to help abandoned spouses locate military members who have failed to meet their financial and other obligations to their families.

For victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault, Family Advocacy's Victim Advocacy Services provides crisis intervention, safety planning, help in getting medical treatment for injuries, information on legal rights and proceedings, and referral to military and civilian shelters and other resources that can aid victims.

Although program staff will help a victim report abuse to law enforcement and other authorities, victims are also free to report abuse on a "restricted" basis, meaning no investigation will be triggered but that they'll still receive the full range of services the program provides victims.

The Transitional Compensation (TC) Program is for family members who've been abused by military personnel. It's backed by Congressional mandate and allows for temporary payments and benefits for families in which the active-duty Soldier has or is being administratively separated for a domestic violence or child abuse offense.

"Many victims do not leave abusive situations for economic reasons, so they don't report" the abuse, Hall said. "This helps in having them step up to report because there is economic support out there when you have the courage or when you decide to leave."

Through the Abandoned Military Spouse Hotline, Family Advocacy helps abandoned spouses, such as those, for example, who've been left with children and none of the needed income for child support. The hotline number is DSN 730-3635, or, dialed from off-post in Korea, 05033-30-3635.

"We can assist them in finding the Soldier and making sure that they receive what they're eligible to," Hall said.

The New Parent Support Program is for Soldiers and family members who are expecting a child or have one or more age 3 or under. Through parenting classes, support groups and home visits, it helps parents learn to cope with stress, isolation, post-deployment reunions and the day-to-day demands of parenthood.

The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) provides a variety of services to active duty Soldiers who have a family member with a physical, emotional, developmental or intellectual disorder that calls for specialized services so their needs can be considered in the military assignment process. The program works with other military and civilian agencies to provide comprehensive and coordinated community support, housing, educational, medical and personnel services.

Hall said the Army wants to dispel the "stigma" that some associate with reporting an "exceptional family member" in their household.

"We want to give the services, the resources, to support this child so we're here to help. They may be struggling and we don't want them to struggle. We're here to support them in any way we can."

Family Advocacy can be reached by calling DSN 730-3107.

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