With this summer’s murders of four women in Fort Bragg, North Carolina serving as a haunting reminder, advocates for domestic violence victims in military families are asking the US Congress to include $10 million to fund domestic violence programs on military installations in the final version of the Defense Appropriations Bill. The bill, HR 5010, is currently pending consideration by a joint conference committee. Advocates are asking that Senate Amendment 4447, sponsored by Sens. Paul Wellstone (D-MN), Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), be included in the final approved version of the bill. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) has drafted a Dear Colleague letter of support for members of Congress to encourage the inclusion of the amendment.
Domestic violence services provided by the military differ from those offered in the civilian population, according to Roybal-Allard. Congress established the Domestic Violence Task Force of the US Department of Defense after the rate of incidents of domestic violence in the military rose from 18.6 to 25.6 per 1000 military personnel between 1990 and 1996. According to the Miles Foundation, a nonprofit organization that tracks domestic violence in the military, the Department of Defense has identified 61,093 offenders in the armed forces or civilians married to active duty personnel. This does not reflect repeat offenses.
With a lack of confidentiality deterring victims on military bases from coming forward to ask for help, the Senate amendment would provide funding for victim advocates at military installations to provide confidential assistance; provide for the operation of multidisciplinary, impartial domestic violence fatality review teams for the Department of Defense; and require annual reports to Congress.
TAKE ACTION Contact Your Representative Or Senator To Ask Him/Her To Sign The Dear Colleague Letter In Support Of Senate Amendment 4447