JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and there have been some important changes impacting survivors of domestic violence in the Air Force. On average, 24 people are victims of domestic violence every minute in the United States. This number includes physical violence, sexual assault, and stalking by an intimate partner. This equates to more than 10 million people every year. While domestic violence affects all groups of Americans, regardless of income, race, gender and socioeconomic status, women make up a disproportionately high number of all cases.
The Department of Defense recently updated the Uniform Code of Military Justice in the most substantial way in decades. One update, Article 128b, formally classifies domestic violence as a specific type of assault.
“Any person who commits a violent offense against a spouse, an intimate partner, or an immediate family member, with the interest to threaten, intimidate or commit a violent offense against that person, has committed assault and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct,” Article 128b states.
Not only does Article 128b include instances of actual harm, but also when the threat of harm is involved.
Additionally, Air Force instructions have been updated to provide commanders with additional tools to assist victims of domestic violence in the military. One update involves the formula for providing spousal support. Until 2018, an official Air Force standard did not exist for providing support to spouses separating from a service member when a court order was not in place. This led to many spouses not being provided with sufficient resources to escape their abuser.
On July 30, 2018, AFI 36-2906, Personal Financial Responsibility, incorporated a new formula to ensure commanders have uniform guidance when ordering a service member to provide support for a spouse or child when a court order is not in place.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone. If you need help, contact the Office of Special Victims’ Counsel at (253) 982-6741