Domestic violence has become such an increasing problem within the military that the Department of Defense has finally made it an item of specific concern. First Sergeants and military police absolutely detest being called out to a situation that may involve domestic violence! This is primarily due to the fact that there is no one simple solution when they arrive. More often than not, the victims of domestic violence refuse to cooperate for fear of threatening their spouses’ career. It should also be noted that contrary to popular belief, the victims are not necessarily only women. In fact, approximately 25% of domestic violence involves men as the victim. The number could actually be higher; however, most men refuse to acknowledge to anyone that they are the victim.
If the abuser is a civilian, the military has no control over the matter. All the military can do is to turn the information over to civilian authorities. They can however, ban the individual from military installations. You can be sure that installation commanders have no problem with exercising this right!
If the abuser is a military member, cases of domestic violence are handled via two separate venues: the military justice system, and the family advocacy system. It is of vital importance to remember that these two separate systems are not connected in any way. Family advocacy is an identification, intervention, and treatment program – not a form of punishment. Under the provisions of military justice, it could be entirely possible that the family advocacy committee may find the situation is one of substantial abuse, yet there may be insufficient legally admissible evidence to dispense any form of punishment. Generally speaking, the family advocacy system does not provide the right of “confidentiality” under military law since any evidence gathered or statements made during the investigation may actually be used in military justice proceedings.
If an incident of violence should happen off-base, civilian agencies may be given jurisdiction on the legal side, but family advocacy should still be notified at all times. When incidences of domestic violence occur off-base, local police may or may not report the incident to base officials. Department of Defense officials are currently working on a way to develop memoranda of understanding with civilian law enforcement authorities to establish such reporting procedures. Regulations require military and Department of Defense officials to report any suspicion of family violence to family advocacy, no matter how small.
When domestic violence is reported to family advocacy, the agency will then assign a caseworker to assess the alleged victim’s health and safety. Information is gathered regarding the incident, along with alleged past events. It is at this point that the alleged abuser is informed of his or her rights under the provisions of Article 31 of the UC MJ; once this is done they no longer have to speak to the investigation officials if they choose not to. After the investigation is completed, the case is then presented to a multidisciplinary case review committee with representatives from the family advocacy program, law enforcement, staff judge advocate, medical staff and chaplain. It is this committee that decides whether the evidence that abuse did indeed occur, and arrives at its decision as to the type of disciplinary action is to be taken, or if any is to be delivered at all.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.