I originally was planning to write an article about the fact that more military participants are joining later in life, and that is an important topic given to what we see as stressors and therapy needs. Then a relative sent me this article about a shooting spree involving a military family that took place in South Carolina recently. This is not the first domestic incident involving guns, military participants, and the deaths of family members. In 2018, a good friend of mine witnessed this when his cousin and her two children were killed by their father, an active-duty participant. He then turned the gun on himself. When I was trying to find information on my friend’s family, I typed into the search bar “service member kills family and self” and the name of their town,. I was surprised to see that a family just a few towns over was suffering a similar fate after discovering that one of their deputies killed his 3 relatives, one of which was his child, and then himself.
Unfortunately, because I live in America, I feel almost desensitized when I hear or read about a mass shooting, as they seem to happen almost weekly. Given that the military is often seen as a microcosm of society, it was only a matter of time for violent domestic killings to start increasing within the military community. What can be done about this? Fort Bragg’s Garrison Commander, Col Wilcox attended Fayetteville’s Domestic Violence Vigil in October of 2022. He encouraged victims to “break the silence” (the theme of the month) and that the Army would start by “demonstrating to soldiers and their families what healthy and loving relationships look like”.
Victims of domestic violence have told us they often are afraid to break the silence. If their spouse’s command doesn’t respond to the allegations, they are putting themselves and their families at a greater risk by speaking out. Victims also worry that the military participant will be punished with a loss of rank and pay, which many can’t afford.
Perhaps the military can demonstrate healthy relationships and look into ways that can get abusers help without punishing the family members. They also need to ensure the family’s safety once abuse is reported. Their current protocol of placing the abuser in the barracks for 72 hours often just leaves the abuser angry and the family unprotected after three days.
While Quaker House can’t protect our clients physically, we do provide a safe place for them to vent, talk, and express their emotions, while getting services and resources.