Wearing the uniform, the respect, the benefits, the purpose; serving in the United States military is a commitment that comes with great admirability. Military families are resilient, adaptive and strong, right?
Although these traits associated with the military way of life can be true, the truth that can be overlooked are the adversities that military families face. Serving our country comes with immeasurable sacrifice and extreme stresses.
Hazardous deployments, vigorous training and excessive time away from loved ones has profound effects on one’s well-being therefore effecting behaviors.
Family violence is a grave danger in military communities. "One in four women and one in four men will be abused by an intimate partner" (CDC, 2010). PTSD and stress to succeed in a military career can cause strain on relationships. Marital problems and issues that arise from prolonged separation cause tension. Service members are not the only ones guilty of family abuse. Often spouses are left isolated from families with children and no career as an outlet. The anxiety and depression that can be associated with this separation can trigger abusive behaviors.
The stress that comes with military life is no excuse to portray abuse onto one’s family member or loved one. Most of the time abuse is a private issue for the victim and perpetrator, but it is a public problem.
The Army and all branches of the military work relentlessly to have policies in place to deal with this issue. It is extremely important for people, civilian and military, to be aware of the resources provided by the Army. The Family Advocacy Program is set forth with policy and regulations that teach military members and victims of abuse how to handle these issues.
The program is made up of policies and regulations, such as mandatory separation of abuser and victims. In the Army, this policy is known as AR 608-18. It ensures financial and housing security to victims. This program ensures safety and support, that if not provided to victims, they may never come forward. The program provides steps for prevention, legal assistance for fighting the issue and counseling for the aftermath of abuse.
As a program assistant of a child development center on post, as well as a military spouse I have seen first-hand the effects of abuse in a military community. I have observed as well as endured the stresses caused by life in the military.
Family violence is a problem that will not go away, unless we are involved in spreading the truth about the issue, solutions and the importance of prevention.
Victims of abuse can feel hopeless and discouraged. Victims of abuse in military households can experience those feelings along with isolation from family and friends and financial insecurity. To survive this situation, they need support and encouragement.
The more informed we are as a community and even nation, the more we can help. How can we expect our military to fight for us, if we don’t fight for them?