JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - A group of nursing students with the University of Alaska Anchorage delivered instructional training on domestic violence awareness and prevention to command teams with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Oct. 2, 2013, at the Soldiers’ Chapel at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
The eight-student team, led by Dr. Angelia Trujillo, with UAA’s school of nursing, conducted extensive research into the issue of domestic violence, and presented their findings to the command teams as a capstone project to assist military leaders with the issue of domestic violence.
The students’ instruction explained that domestic violence happens across a broad spectrum of society. Incidents occur among many socio-economic backgrounds, education levels, races, and cultures. The abuse affects not only the abusers and victims, but also family members, friends, and, ultimately, the community as a whole.
According to their research, domestic violence occurs from intimidation abuses including: neglect, where basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing are not provided; verbal abuse, words, body language, or anything that criticizes another person, to include put-downs or name calling; physical abuse, any threat or actual use of physical harm; sexual abuse, any unwanted sexual contact; economic abuse, using money or having access to money in order to control a person; and psychological abuse, systematic perpetration of explicit non-physical acts where strong manipulative content is used in order to force the victim to comply with an abuser’s wishes.
Col. Matthew McFarlane, the 4-25’s commanding officer, said he was thankful for the training the students provided to the brigade’s command teams because it further emphasized how important it is to eliminate domestic violence in the Army’s community through awareness, prevention, and response efforts.
“I can’t tell you how important it is that we continue to try to engage our families, and our Paratroopers, and the soldiers around post about what domestic violence is,” said McFarlane as he addressed the leaders of the 4-25.
McFarlane said as we enter October, which is nationally recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the training given by the nursing students from UAA, coupled with the JBER Family Advocacy Program’s Bystander Campaign, are tools leaders can use to curb domestic violence in the community.
“We have the Bystander Campaign that is happening parallel to this [UAA Student Training]. It’s another construct that we have to test ourselves to see if we are seeing some signs, anybody in the formation, seeing signs that may indicate domestic violence is occurring, and to see if bystanders are intervening, or at least asking about it,” said McFarlane.
McFarlane credited senior leadership at JBER for recognizing, enforcing, and training the force on the issue of Domestic Violence.
The 4-25’s chaplain, Maj. James Lee, echoed McFarlane’s thoughts on leadership acknowledgement of domestic violence and the active measures in training employed to help eliminate it.
“The support we have had from our command in focusing on this kind of training I think is representative of an attitude at the highest echelon of our command, from our brigade down,” said Lee.
“When our soldiers and our families see how our leadership at the lowest levels respond, it might have a positive impact,” said Lee.
One of the student instructors, Halena Rae White, from Big Lake, Alaska said, “I hope this will inspire leaders in the military to just be more aware of domestic violence and its effects on soldiers and Families of the soldiers. I just want them to be aware of the signs to look for, and once they do see the signs, to get help for those people.”
The nursing group suggested resources for people in the local area who are in need of help. One primary safe haven for victims and their children in the Anchorage area is an organization called Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis. The center is located on the corner of West 13th Avenue and A Street in Anchorage. The center offers help and a safe living environment for victims for a period of up to one month.