The incidence of domestic violence in the military has been so high that the Department of Defense has made special and concerted efforts to address this problem over the span of years. Rates of domestic violence are far higher among military families than among members of the general population.

PTSD Common Element in Military Domestic Violence Cases

In 2011, the Pentagon noted that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), combat-related, was one of the primary drivers for family violence. The report remarked that “Soldiers with PTSD are up to three times more likely to be aggressive with their female partners than those without such trauma.” The report also noted that many are afraid to report incidents of family violence due to repercussions such as the impact it might have on promotion within the military and rates of pay.

Female Service Members Often Suffer Domestic Violence at Hands of Civilians

According to the Department of Defense in 2011, “Military family advocacy social workers supported 14,237 people in response to domestic violence reports. Victim advocates worked with 18,055 during that time, Defense Department records show. The family advocacy program, Military OneSource, and military family life counselors supported many more who sought help without a report being filed,” Robertson said. She also noted that half of all reported cases were from a female service member abused by a civilian man. Overall family safety should remain the primary consideration of all parties involved; however, other considerations may also have far more dire and long-lasting impacts on military families than on other sub-populations in the United States.

On Responses within the Military

The bulk of cases involving family violence among active duty military personnel are addressed by the civilian justice system(s) when the incident did not occur on a military installation. Those that take place on-post are handled by military authorities. At most military installations commanders will have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with local community governmental authorities that address how criminal cases will be handled.

There are actually two systemic mechanisms put into place to deal with domestic violence cases in the community; the Family Advocacy Programs (FAP) and the Military Justice System or Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). How each program will respond and the steps undertaken with respect to a given incident of domestic violence will vary by local agreements and understandings with civilian authorities and by the circumstances surrounding the incident. FAP usually involves multiple stake-holders, on both the military and civilian side, and they are tasked with addressing violence within military families.

Impacts of a Conviction for Domestic Violence upon Active-Duty Military

Perhaps the foremost consideration when an active duty military member is convicted would be the repercussions under the Lautenberg Amendment. Under Lautenberg, if you are convicted of an act of domestic violence you lose the right to bear firearms—in other words, for active-duty military personnel this may mean you will not be able to perform your duties and you will have to leave the military. Conviction for an offense involving domestic violence will, in fact, mean that you will never be able to own firearms, period. There are other long-term impacts which one should also consider when facing charges for an act of domestic violence, among them; inability or restriction upon ability to obtain professional licensure or certification (in health care or law enforcement, for example) and other barriers to employment in a variety of professions.

It is imperative, if facing charges in a case involving domestic violence, to pursue competent and reliable legal representation. Collins & Collins is a long-established, experienced and reputable law firm that can provide a quality legal defense in cases involving domestic or family violence. We can be reached at (505) 242-5958