What can be done

Not all domestic violence assaults, murders or other violent incidents are related to military service and not all of these offenses can be attributed to PTSD or TBI. “Rather, we must strive to understand how domestic violence, PTSD and TBI can be distinguished and how to craft interventions that prevent further violence and loss of life” (Tucker, 2009). To date, there are a number of initiatives taking place at the national level aimed at addressing these complex situations.

The Department of Defense is headed by a civilian, the Secretary of Defense, appointed by the President of the United States. Under the Secretary of Defense, there are three military departments: The Department of the Army, The Department of the Air Force and the Department of the Navy, which encompasses the Navy and Marine Corps. The Family Advocacy Program (FAP) in the Office of the Secretary of Defense provides the Services with policy guidance and funding for execution of the FAP. Implementation of FAP differs among the services. In the Air Force and Army, FAP is a clinical service under medical and/or behavioral health and may operate out of a hospital or clinic. Navy and Marine Corps offer FAP services as a part of their family support and services programs; FAP staff are typically based in the family services center. In addition, specific FAP services may vary by Service as well as by installation.

Domestic Abuse Victim Advocates provide comprehensive services and support to victims of domestic abuse and intimate partner violence e, including crisis intervention, safety planning, and assistance in securing medical treatment for injuries, information on legal rights and proceedings, and referral to military and civilian shelters and other resources available to victims. Victim Advocacy services are available 24 hours a day/7 days a week to active duty members and their families. Domestic Abuse Victim Advocates are also available to assist with questions regarding reporting options, transitional compensation and other relevant options.

The Department of Defense has comprehensive Victim and Witness Assistance Programs (VWAP) in order to enhance and protect the rights of victims of crimes committed within the military setting. (VWAPs are in addition to specialized assistance for victims of sexual assault or domestic violence.) The VWAP is designed to ensure victims and witnesses of crime are afforded their rights throughout the criminal process – from initial contact with investigators through adjudication and any period of confinement. VWAPs assist victims with exercising their federally mandated rights and with navigating the criminal justice system. VWAPs also provide information on services and resources, and they interact with lawyers and commanders. VWAPs help ensure the victim’s situation is respected. VWAPs help ensure that the victims are treated with respect, have a voice in the process, and are kept informed of the status of the investigation and prosecution.

DoD Family Advocacy Program
The DOD Family Advocacy Program is dedicated to the prevention, education, early identification and prompt reporting, investigation, intervention and treatment of spouse and child abuse. The Family Advocacy Program (FAP) provides a variety of services to active duty military personnel and families to enhance their relationship skills, strengthen family functioning, competency and self sufficiency to improve their quality of life. This mission is accomplished through a variety of life skills seminars and workshops, counseling and other intervention services.