Team Eglin Airmen affected by domestic violence

  • Published
  • By Col. Scott Owens
  • 46 Seek Eagle Office Commander
I trust the subject of domestic violence and the fact that it affects Team Eglin Airmen is as disappointing for you as it is for me, but it's the truth. According to the Family Advocacy Program, there were 336 referred cases of domestic violence involving Team Eglin Airmen in FY2008. From a major command perspective, Eglin makes up approximately a quarter of all Air Force Material Command domestic violence cases. 

The effects of domestic violence are not limited to the home and family; rather they also affect an Airman's job performance, co-workers and ultimately the unit's mission. Although domestic violence is a societal problem, through awareness and active caring we can respond to and even prevent this very real issue. 

What is domestic violence? According to the U.S. Department of Defense, domestic violence is a pattern of behavior resulting in emotional/psychological abuse, economic control and/or interference with personal liberty that is directed toward a person of the opposite sex. The person affected can be a current or former spouse, a person with whom the abuser shares a child with, or current or former intimate partner with whom the abuser shares or has shared a common domicile. 

Domestic violence doesn't discriminate by age, religion, race or socioeconomic status. Domestic violence can come in the form of emotional, sexual, psychological, physical or financial abuse. Domestic violence is also closely related to the stressors in our increasingly fast-paced lives and our ability to cope with them. An example of this type of situation is the current financial crisis with its unnerving rollercoaster effect on 401K and TSP account balances. This is considered an unannounced financial stress that can set the conditions for, or exacerbate, domestic violence. 

The Department of Defense has a zero tolerance policy concerning domestic violence. So what can you do to support this policy? While the commander is ultimately responsible, everyone has a role to play, and we need to ask ourselves the following questions to address this problem. 

For commanders and leaders, here's another fact that's unacceptable: not all of our units have the supportive climate that is essential in identifying and helping our Airmen. Has a climate been established in your organization or area of responsibility that fosters a positive environment and is conducive to asking for help? Are you prepared to respond, and do you know what resources are available if you need them? Is information posted in your unit? 

Co-workers, could you recognize the signs of potential trouble, and do you know your teammates well enough to be in a position to help? Do you have a Wingman, and are you the type of Wingman that fosters trust and confidence? Would you know what to do if you were approached? Do you know the reporting procedures and resources available that can provide help and assistance? 

As October and Domestic Violence Awareness month comes to a close, we've made good progress in raising awareness and educating ourselves about domestic violence, but we can never be satisfied until there are zero cases in our Air Force. So take a few minutes and ask yourself, "Is domestic violence affecting you or someone you know?"
The good news is that there is plenty of information available to answer these questions and get assistance to those who need help. You can get more information from the following sources: 

· Call Family Advocacy at 883-8616
· Call National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800)799-SAFE
· Call National Rape Crisis Hotline at (800)-44-ABUSE