Pentagon: Releasing human Dobermans in battle, falling way short on military's domestic violence
Wednesday May 24 2006
Also at: Thursday May 25 2006
Report raps Pentagon over domestic violence
Military is failing to keep adequate records about the problem, GAO saysBy LOLITA C. BALDOR
WASHINGTON - The Defense Department does not gather adequate records on domestic violence, making it difficult to tell how big a problem it is in the military, congressional investigators said Wednesday.
The Government Accountability Office also said there is insufficient information on the disciplinary actions taken by military commanders against service members involved in domestic violence.
The office, Congress' investigative arm, recommended that the Defense Department work to ensure that all discipline is reported.
The study said the department has taken steps in the past three years to deal with military domestic abuse, including adding shelters and victims' advocates. The Pentagon also has issued directives to increase awareness of domestic violence and to improve reporting.
But the GAO found problems with the department's reporting in several areas, such as whether all chaplains had finished training on how to deal with domestic violence victims.
Without complete data on abuse incidents and the discipline taken, the GAO said, Congress and the Pentagon won't have the "information needed to understand the magnitude of the domestic violence problem, identify domestic violence trends and address emerging issues."
In its response to the study, the Pentagon said the programs that the individual services use to collect the data are underfunded and insufficient. The Defense Department also cited privacy concerns and rejected the GAO's suggestion that protective orders issued by the military in response to abuse situations be reported to law enforcement and family advocacy officials.
According to the report, the Defense Department has provided $23 million since 2003 for domestic violence programs. But both the Pentagon and the GAO said the Family Violence Policy Office is not fully staffed, and must be in order to meet the military's needs.