By David G. Landmann, Sentinel News EditorOctober 25, 2006
Domestic violence in Army families is both a "people" issue and also one of readiness, Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, told an audience of Army leaders Oct. 7.
Odierno's comments helped set the tone for the post's annual Domestic Violence Stand Down Day at a leadership breakfast in the ballroom of the Fort Hood Catering and Conference Center.
"We have to make sure everyone under the command understands the implications of domestic violence," Odierno said.
Domestic violence is not just something that impacts the perpetrator and the immediate victim, but its effects spread through entire families, according to Odierno. It is also an issue some tend to overlook.
"We can't just say 'Oh, he's my first sergeant, and he couldn't do this,'" he said. "It is very, very important we understand this problem and educate...to change to behavior of these Soldiers."
From a command perspective, Odierno told his audience domestic violence is "all about readiness" and readiness, he said, like the Army, is all about people.
"We have to make sure we're providing (our Soldiers) an environment in which they can grow as people," he said.
Odierno said he wanted the remainder of Domestic Violence Stand Down Day spent with leadership working to educate Soldiers about the issue.
"We need to explain the problem and what is available to them," he said. "It is the (Soldiers) who don't go for help who end up (in violent family situations)."
"The victims could be anybody," he added, "So we've got to make sure we get everybody involved. We have to communicate about this problem."
Odierno said as far as he is concerned, there are no excuses for domestic violence in Army families.
"Yes," he said, "we're under a lot of stress. And, yes, we're deploying, but those things and not excuses for violence."
He admonished the Army leaders attending the breakfast to take the lead in reducing the amount of domestic violence among Fort Hood Soldiers, and to take the lead in intervention.
Earlier in the breakfast program, Eric Jackson, a domestic violence intervention training instructor, urged Army leaders to intervene in situations where they suspect domestic violence.
Jackson opened his presentation with a video in which a spouse is killed as a result of family violence. Several times during the video, friends, neighbors and passers-by could have intervened and possibly prevented the death.
"That video," Jackson said, "demonstrates the lack of community involvement where domestic violence is concerned. Had there been some intervention, this would not have happened."
Even in instances where domestic violence doesn't result in death or physical injury, the emotional toll is heavy, according to Jackson.
"Whatever the outcome," he said, "it is still a tragedy."
Intervention, Jackson continued, often comes too late.
"We usually get involved when we get tire of hearing the hollering. We usually don't call the MPs until (domestic violence) inconveniences us," he said.
Army leaders, he suggested, need to show their concern for the domestic well-being of their Soldiers with action - an appropriate response.
"Just what that appropriate response is depends on the situation going on with the couples," Jackson said.
And getting to know the situation, he said, can sometimes be a simple process.
"Just by asking a Soldier how things are at home could be the key," he said. "If you don't know what to do then, call Family Advocacy."
Jackson also urged leaders to hold offending Soldiers accountable for their actions.
"We have to be proactive to try to prevent (family violence), and then we have to give the offenders what they deserve," he said."