FORT JACKSON, S.C. (Aug. 21, 2014) -- Members of the local clergy and post chaplains gathered Tuesday at the Fort Jackson Officers' Club to learn about on- and off-post resources available to service members who worship at local churches.

"The Fort Jackson Soldier Family -- Ministry Forum is a chaplain-led initiative designed to help meet the spiritual and other needs of service members and their families by partnering with religious or faith-based groups in the local community," said Chaplain (Col.) James Palmer, Fort Jackson installation chaplain.

The topic for the forum was "Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: Prevention and Victim Advocacy."

"I want to be able to help pastors understand the importance of the cycle of violence and that most parishioners are not going to come to them and share that they are in an abusive relationship," said Yolanda White, a licensed independent social worker/clinical practitioner with Dorn VA Medical Center. "They need to know the early signs as they provide marital counseling and as they see people struggling with these issues.

"I think if the pastors continue to communicate that the man should love his wife as Christ loves the church, and that love shouldn't hurt, love shouldn't be name calling or tearing down someone's character, that will help communities, young people and those in relationships," White said.

More than 15 clergy members from the local community attended the forum.

"Each presenter was important, but I did not realize that (clinical practitioners) were available at the VA in regards to counseling for abuse and that sort of thing," said the Rev. Clarke McGriff, Greenhill Baptist Church. "This event was a great opportunity to also get diverse religious leaders to rub shoulders to see how we might now collaborate together in civilian ministries outside the gate," McGriff said.

Palmer said he was pleased with the diversity of the clergy in attendance, which included non-denominational and denominational Christian pastors as well as Muslim imams.

"For our first one, I am pleased with our turnout and with the presenters' information," Palmer said. "The intent is not to reach a particular group, but to reach all faith-based organizations regardless of their faith background."

Palmer said he plans to have similar forums twice a year.