By Reggie Jarrett
Editor, Jax Air News
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Naval Air Jacksonville's Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) kicked the month off early with an event at Dewey's Sept. 28. The theme for the month is "Be the Change: Prevent Domestic Violence."
Russell Strand, chief of the Behavioral Sciences Education and Training Division of the U.S. Army Military Police School, was the featured speaker for the event.
Strand spoke about values and making a change in culture to combat domestic violence.
"I want to turn the conversation from strictly domestic violence to their values," he said speaking to the largely military audience. "I want to focus on the Navy values, and help them understand they are part of a big organization that is a values-based organization, and that domestic violence is contrary to every single one of those values."
Strand, a retired U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division federal special agent, has been speaking out about domestic violence for more than forty years. "It is more of a values training than anything else," Strand said of his speech, "because if people follow those values, they won't have a proclivity to be abusers, they won't tolerate it from others, and they won't make excuses for others."
In addition to values, Strand placed great importance on changing the culture of domestic violence. "When we talk about culture in the military, it begins with trust," he said. "We need to be who we say we are all the time. If everyone did that, the culture would change."
Strand defined culture as "the way you think, act and interact."
A projected slide in Strand's presentation noted that Sailors are more likely to be assaulted or abused by another Sailor than be killed or wounded by a foreign enemy. It is also not just a women's issue. "In the military, more men are victims of abuse than women," Strand said.
Strand also spoke about the difficulty in identifying abusers. "We can't see threats because most people don't look like predators," he said. To prove his point, Strand removed his suit jacket to show that he had words such as "sex offender" and "liar" written on his shirt, which were hidden under his jacket. "Predators mask who they are," he said.
About 200 people attended the first of many events scheduled by FFSC throughout the month of October about the problem of domestic violence and abuse. "The goal is to spread awareness," said Erica Schneider, domestic abuse victim advocate for FFSC. "Domestic violence is a big issue in the Navy, and in the military as a whole," she said. "We have programs in place to help Sailors get the assistance they need."
Strand emphasized the importance of everyone getting involved about this issue. "All of us have to become engaged," he said to combat domestic violence. "Respect yourself, respect each other. You really can make an impact. The bottom line is, we have to take care of our own."