SAN ANTONIO — October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the Army is doing its part to help combat violent behavior in its ranks.
The awareness campaign aims to highlight the prevention, intervention and services provided by a community more than willing to address and stop domestic violence.
“All of you are dedicated to eliminating this threat,” said Army Secretary John McHugh during a Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention summit held in March, “and it’s a threat to our cohesion of our units, a threat to our units and a threat to our very humanity.”
In 2008, former Secretary of the Army Pete Geren and Army Chief of Staff George W. Casey Jr. launched a new strategy — including the I. A.M. (Intervene, Act, Motivate) Strong Campaign — to thwart sexual assault and harassment.
This year’s SHARP summit opened phase three of I. A.M. Strong’s four‐point effort to eliminate sexual violence in the Army. At the summit Carolyn Collins, SHARP Program Office division chief, noted that domestic violence numbers went down 8 percent in 2010. She said 1,689 cases were reported last year, and 1,795 were report in 2009.
“We know our actual numbers went down, not just our reported numbers. And our rate per 1,000 went down,” Collins said. “We grew our Army the last few years, but our rate per 1,000 didn’t go up with that, it actually came down, so we believe we are reducing crime.”
Collins attributed this to encouraging victims to report incidents of violence; providing some of the best medical care and counseling techniques in the nation; and the Army dedicating itself to prosecution and investigation techniques.
“We will assess ourselves by ensuring we are doing the best we can,” Collins said. “We will adjust fire, just as in the Army, to ensure our investment is bringing about change so we can achieve our goal of eliminating sexual harassment and assault”.
Statistics show a need for the Army to build social intolerance toward domestic violence, such as strengthening programs designed to promote awareness; encouraging reporting; providing safety for victims; and ensuring treatment and/or administrative action for offenders, with special emphasis on services for junior Soldiers and their spouses or intimate partners.
Also, the Army Family Programs office has established an Army Family Advocacy Program web page on ArmyOneSource.com for Soldiers and Families with information and awareness campaign resources. The web page makes available resources for new parent support visitors, victim advocates, transitional compensation and other prevention and educational services.