DoD Launches Domestic Violence Awareness Campaign

 By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
 American Forces Press Service

 WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2006  - The Defense Department today launched a national program to increase awareness among servicemembers and their families about domestic violence.

DoD is partnering with the National Domestic Violence Hotline for the campaign, which is themed, "Take a stand against domestic violence."

The campaign is designed as an intervention message to educate servicemembers and their families about domestic violence and connect them to the 24-hour-a-day hotline, said Gail McGinn, who is performing the duties of the principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

"It is an effort to focus the whole country on domestic violence issues," McGinn said. "We want to make sure that people have the opportunity to stop and think about domestic violence and highlight that as an issue in society as well as in the military."

Educational materials about domestic violence will be distributed at military installations and in key public places in surrounding civilian communities. The campaign also will include public service announcements in military media outlets.

"We're hoping that more victims of domestic violence will make themselves known to us so that we can provide assistance," McGinn said. "We're also hoping that by raising the visibility of the issue, we help people to reconsider their behavior and actually be more willing to report domestic violence."

Domestic violence is a significant issue in DoD, as it is in society as a whole, McGinn said. The department already has an active program to address the problem, including support and counseling services, she said, and a task force has studied the issue and made recommendations about how to improve that program. As a result of those recommendations, DoD has revised some of its policies and put new training programs in place, she said.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers access to domestic violence programs in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The hotline provides crisis intervention, information and referral to victims of domestic violence and their friends and families 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in more than 140 languages, with a teletypewriter line available for the disabled. The hotline's phone number is (800) 799-SAFE (7233), and the TTY line is (800) 787-3224.