By Jessica Ryan, U.S. Army Installation Management Command
SAN ANTONIO (September 25, 2015) – “The core values for a good and healthy relationship mirror the Army core values,” said Lt. Col. Ricky J. Martinez, the family advocacy program manager for Headquarters, Department of the Army.
“Love, respect and trust will be at the forefront for any healthy relationship,” he explained, “However, relationships will also need other core values such as honesty, integrity, commitment, selflessness and courage to be completely successful.”
In October, Army leaders at all levels will emphasize the positive impact of Army Values on relationships as they join the nation in observing Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence awareness campaigns will bring awareness to an issue which undermines the Army Values and has the potential to end careers — and even lives.
This year’s Department of Defense theme is “It starts with respect: Live by core values to keep your relationship healthy and strong.” The Army will focus its efforts on publicizing their resources which help Soldiers and family members develop life skills and maintain positive relationships.
During the month, military installations worldwide will execute events that highlight prevention programs and services available to Soldiers and family members. Notable campaign efforts include purple ribbon — the symbol for domestic violence awareness — ceremonies, training classes and workshops featuring keynote speakers and survivors, wellness fairs, signing pledges and public service announcements.
“Our programs are designed to promote awareness, encourage reporting, provide safety for victims and ensure treatment or administrative action for offenders,” said Martinez.
The Army Victim Advocacy Program, a program within U.S. Installation Management Command, provides prevention, education and intervention services for victims. According to the Army Family and MWR website, the program is for service members, their current or former spouses, an individual with whom the service member shares a child and significant others of service members who live together. Services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Trained professionals help victims with dealing with crisis response, understanding reporting options and even obtaining military and civilian protective orders. They will also accompany victims to medical exams and court protection hearings.
Even though these services like these exist, victim advocacy coordinators also aim to educate couples on practicing good communication skills so their relationship troubles do not escalate to violent behavior.
“We want to build the understanding that seeking out external resources such as counseling, couples’ retreats and workshops during difficult times is a sign of strength and also helps sustain healthy, intimate relationships,” said Tina Felder-Jones, the victim advocate coordinator at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Air Field, Georgia.
Through the help of Felder-Jones and her team, victims are able to seek support and start a better life. A survivor — who wished to remain anonymous — wrote a comment card to her office and expressed gratitude for their help.
“It would have been a much darker road for me if I had not had the courage to step into your doors,” the anonymous domestic violence survivor saidA message that Martinez and other family advocacy program managers want to make loud and clear is that every person can help in preventing domestic violence.
“Everyone plays a role in upholding the community values and standards that support safe, healthy relationships for everyone in our military communities and civilian communities,” said Martinez.