By Wendy Brown, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsOctober 7, 2019
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Oct. 8, 2019) -- To get senior leaders talking about how they would address specific domestic violence issues, Family Advocacy Program personnel put together a series of scenarios for the organization's symposium here Oct. 4.
One scenario involved a stalker, another animal abuse, and another a controlling spouse. Unfortunately, however, FAP personnel didn't have to look far to come up with ideas for the scenarios.
"Some of those things that you saw in the scenarios that you discussed this morning are things that are going on right now that we've just experienced recently," said Col. Thomas Matelski, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, who spoke at the end of the symposium and stressed the importance of tackling domestic violence as a local issue.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and about 30 leaders spent the morning discussing the scenarios and listening to speakers. Julio Escareno, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (commonly known as CID) special agent in charge at Camp Zama, and Dr. (Capt.) Mary Kay McLean, a veterinarian and officer in charge of the Camp Zama Veterinary Treatment Facility, talked about domestic violence as it relates to their jobs.
Escareno said CID does not handle most domestic violence cases, but does work strangulation and suffocation cases because those situations can often escalate and lead to death.
Escareno encouraged leaders to report cases of domestic violence to law enforcement.
"Bad news does not get better with time, so if there's an issue that you feel that you feel is very serious, then you should, if it has to do with CID or any criminal investigation, definitely raise it up," Escareno said.
McLean, meanwhile, talked about the link between animal abuse and domestic and child abuse.
"Domestic violence, child abuse and animal abuse do frequently occur simultaneously in the family," McLean said. "In fact, 71 percent of women with pets at domestic violence shelters reported that their partner had threatened to hurt or kill their pet."
Stan Austin, manager of the Camp Zama FAP, and Amy Trotto, a FAP specialist at Camp Zama, used their expertise to expand on points the speakers had made.
Trotto, for example, urged commanders to err on the side of caution when it comes to reporting domestic violence.
"[It] is not your job to investigate and find out what happened initially," Trotto said. "Let the law enforcement do that, but you want to keep everybody safe, because you're going to have worse trouble on your hands if you let them get back together and a worse incident happens."
Austin said the program holds the symposium once a year during October so leaders know what to do when domestic violence and child abuse issues arise.
"We want to work in partnership with the command in order to ensure that all the Soldiers and families that are here, that their needs are being met and that the Soldiers can focus on the mission," Austin told attendees.
In addition, Mel Jackson, a financial and employment readiness specialist at ACS, and representatives from the Army Substance Abuse Program were on hand to answer questions.
Matelski said leaders should familiarize themselves with the tools available on post, such as ACS, ASAP and the U.S. Army Resiliency Center, for them to address domestic violence.
Even though Soldiers aren't deploying as much as they used to, leaders need to pay attention to potential issues and support Soldiers, Matelski said.
Capt. Gloria Freck, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 35th Combat Service Support Battalion, said she found the symposium informative.
"The leaders that are here are all very passionate about what they do, and they are really willing to help us, especially as command teams," Freck said. "I've talked to every single one of these ACS individuals and they've been able to provide me information to help stop situations from getting worse, so I think they do a really great job."