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Wednesday, 04/13/05

Program to curb domestic violence could get federal help

Officials: Fort Campbell first Army post in pilot project

FORT CAMPBELL A yearlong project aimed at curbing domestic and sexual violence incidents at Fort Campbell is under way and the process could attract federal funding.

Representatives from more than 30 agencies that oversee domestic and sexual violence issues signed a Memorandum of Understanding yesterday to form a project called the Military-Civilian Coordinated Community Response Demonstration.

Maj. Gen. Thomas Turner, commander of the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell, endorsed the agreement, saying that domestic violence ''can scar a community, destroy our families and impact our readiness.''

Fort Campbell is the first Army post to participate in the pilot project administered under the federal 1994 Violence Against Women Act. The act requires all U.S. legal jurisdictions to enforce domestic violence orders from other districts. Two naval stations in Jacksonville, Fla., recently have launched a similar project.

Fort Campbell, about 50 miles northwest of Nashville, was criticized by now-retired Christian County District Judge Peter Macdonald in a 1999 appearance on 60 Minutes for its approach to domestic violence issues. The criticism followed the deaths of two women who were killed by soldiers under court order to stay away.

The project at Fort Campbell will include 60 people, leaders from the military, communities outside Fort Campbell and law enforcement agencies, said Debby Tucker, executive director for the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence in Austin, Texas.

The center is responsible for the project at military installations. Fort Campbell was one of 24 installations that volunteered to participate; it is the first Army post to begin the project.

Members of the pilot project will meet at various times throughout the year. Training is scheduled for May 18-19. In January 2006, the group will submit a grant application for federal funds from the U.S. Department of Justice.

''There is a reserved pot of money with Fort Campbell's name on it,'' Tucker said. ''Nobody will tell me how much, but there is a sum of money for this post.''

Fort Campbell, which has more than 20,000 troops, straddles the border of Kentucky and Tennessee. Tucker said domestic violence often involves soldiers who are under the age of 30. Also, recent overseas conflicts generally add stress to active-duty military personnel and their families, she said.

However, much of the problem in handling domestic violence at the post lies in the fact that the two states handle domestic and sexual violence cases differently. And in many cases, post officials aren't aware that a soldier has been ordered by the courts to stay away from the victim, Tucker said.

''You have two different states, two different laws,'' she said. ''How can we take all that and bring it to the table to resolve is what we are going to do.''

In addition to resolving the legal boundaries of domestic violence, Tucker said the project also will suggest ways for soldiers and their families to react to problems, address communication gaps between the court systems and Fort Campbell and find solutions to prevent victim injury.



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