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 Wednesday, January 26, 2005
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Post to combat domestic violence



Greg Williamson/The Leaf-Chronicle

Debby Tucker, left, visits with Staff Judge Advocate Col. Richard Whitaker and Clarksville Mayor Don Trotter before a Domestic and Sexual Violence briefing Tuesday at Fort Campbell.

ON THE WEB

  • Information on the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence can be found at http://www.ncdsv.org/.
  • Fort Campbell is the first Army post to take part in a domestic violence prevention project that will heavily involve off-post agencies and resources.

    The Military/Civilian Coordinated Community Response to Domestic Violence Demonstration Project is a model officials hope will be a blueprint for all military installations.

    About 80 agency directors and representatives from Fort Campbell, Montgomery County and Christian County, Ky., who deal with domestic violence attended Tuesday's meeting on post. They learned how to better work together and reviewed the project that is facilitated through the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence based in Austin, Texas.

    Representatives are expected to sign an agreement to implement the program at Fort Campbell by the end of February.

    Because 70 percent of Fort Campbell's soldiers live off post, surrounding community agencies such as law enforcement, county courts and victim advocacy agencies should play a major role to ensure both victims and offenders of domestic and sexual violence are treated fairly.

    "We want to stop the violence," said the center's Executive Director Deborah Tucker. "That's our ultimate goal."

    Fort Campbell officials say they didn't have 2004 domestic violence statistics compiled as of Tuesday, which covers incidents between Oct. 1, 2003 to Sept. 30, 2004.

    The latest numbers available are for 2002, with 4.6 confirmed cases of domestic violence for every 1,000 Fort Campbell soldiers. The rate for the entire Army in 2002 was 5.7 per 1,000. Numbers were not recorded for 2003 because the 101st Airborne Division was deployed to Iraq.

    Army Community Services Family Advocacy Manager Louie Sumner said although he believes better coordination with the local community is always an objective, he said some agency officials think the military isn't doing enough to punish the perpetrator.

    "(I'm for) any way to better protect our families and soldiers, as long as soldiers are not treated any differently than anyone else," Sumner said.

    The significance is a soldier convicted of domestic violence can no longer carry a firearm under the federal Lautenberg law, which basically means his Army career is over.

    To avoid a conviction, many soldiers enroll in a 24-week domestic violence education class to rehabilitate them rather than face a criminal record.

    Peggy Macias, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault unit coordinator for the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, said she sees the frustration on both sides. The unit was created in November 2003, thanks to a federal grant, and has assisted more than 800 people since then.

    "The victim feels like they only care about the soldier and not her," said Macias, who added that it's tough for troops because they're trained to fight. "Once it gets to court, the victim feels that the soldier got off too easy."

    The center is in collaboration with the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women and the Department of Defense.

    Chantal Escotocovers military affairs and can be reached at 245-0216 or by e-mail at chantalescoto@theleafchronicle.com.

    Originally published January 26, 2005

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