Deployment info wanted in domestic abuse cases
Stars and Stripes June 27, 2007
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy is requiring reports of domestic violence to include the date and location of a sailor’s last deployment.
"This change enables the Navy to monitor more closely the mental health issues potentially related to operational, expeditionary and individual augmentation deployments," a recent Navywide message said.
As part of the change, domestic violence reports must also include whether sailors who deployed after March 2004 completed a Post Deployment Health Reassessment between 90 and 180 days after coming home, the message said.
The changes were not prompted by a specific incident or requirement, said Capt. Lewin C. Wright, director of the Navy’s Comprehensive Casualty Care Working Group.
"We’re trying to look at all ways to keep our sailors well and the families well; and part of that is gathering data," Wright said on Tuesday.
Currently, the Navy does not have any data that suggest a correlation between deployments and domestic violence, Wright said.
Asked if the changes to domestic violence reports were meant to see if there was such a connection, Wright said: "I don’t want to say that. … We’re collecting data to see what we find out."
Between fiscal 2006 and 2007, the number of substantiated reports of domestic abuse in the Navy rose from 1,789 to 1,925, according to statistics provided by the Navy. The number of such reports in fiscal 2005 was 1,911.
Representatives from the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force were still working on a request made by Stars and Stripes for such statistics by deadline on Thursday.
A nonprofit group for military-related victims of domestic violence has seen a much more dramatic increase in cases of domestic violence.
For the month of October 2001, the Miles Foundation received 50 requests for help; it now receives 167 per week, said group spokeswoman Anita Sanchez.
The increase is due to a number of factors, including deployments. Domestic violence incidents tend to spike immediately before and after deployments, Sanchez said.
Prior to deployments, she said, perpetrators of domestic violence might look for ways to retain control while they are gone; and when they get back, they might find that mere looks and body language are no longer enough to assert control, and so they might escalate to physical abuse.
Sanchez did not have a breakdown of the requests by service, but said most of the requests involved soldiers.