“The Army really takes prevention of child abuse very seriously, especially on Fort Bragg where we actually have a prevention program that has sixty staff prevention members and about fifty treatment program staff members,” explained Tom Hill, Fort Bragg’s Family Advocacy Program manager on July 17, during a panel discussing child deaths in N.C.
Fort Bragg’s FAP uses a mixture of information from Cornell University on making assessments of Soldiers and their Families and the Department of Defense’s task forces that study problems such as partner abuse, child maltreatment, sexual assault, Family support of deployed Soldiers and suicides.
“By using the research done by Cornell University, the program is able to help strengthen Families and protect children,” Hill said. “Some of the things they found is that home visiting programs, like (we offer), are really important for young Families.”
Fort Bragg’s home visit program is managed by Army Community Service’s New Parent Support Program and is available to parents of all ranks.
“Our staff provides supportive services to military Families that are pregnant, or with children through the age of three years,” said Sue O’Brien, the program’s manager. “They can talk about your concerns as a parent or parent-to-be, and help you learn to cope with stress, isolation, post deployment reunions, and the everyday demands of parenthood in the privacy of your home. We’ll work with parents to find programs that best help them as well as the best time of day to help them.”
The Family Advocacy Program also educates Soldiers, Families and commanders on awareness of abuses such as spouse and child abuse and can offer training on children management as well as victim advocacy services.
In partnership with FAP, Womack Army Medical Center provides counseling through its Department of Social Work, and Fort Bragg’s chaplain’s Family Life section assists Soldiers and Families through marriage and Family pastoral counseling, its wellness program and marriage enrichment programs.
“Fort Bragg realizes that a strong Family helps accomplish military missions,” said Hill. “If a Soldier deploys and knows his or her Family is okay and strong, then they can concentrate on accomplishing their mission overseas and not worry about the home front.”
Soldiers and Family members can voluntarily seek counseling and assistance and commanders can direct Soldiers to attend programs but Families cannot be required to attend classes or use services.
“One of our main goals is to ensure our that Families know they can get help by a variety of ways,” said Tom McCollum, Fort Bragg Garrison’s Public Affairs Officer. Commanders can direct the Soldier to get help but not the Families.”
Upon arriving at Fort Bragg and as they prepare to deploy, Soldiers are briefed on all programs available to them and their Families. Additionally, upon returning from deployment, Soldiers participate in reintegration training programs where again, they are briefed on these services.
“It is Fort Bragg’s hope that by working with local Department of Social Services, as well as the programs offered at the installation, parents will be able to remove the risk factors in their homes and lives,” said McCollum. “And because we are a part of a larger community, we share our knowledge throughout the state and other installations to prevent child abuse and homicide,” he said.
“We understand in Cumberland County that the end of not only child homicide but child abuse in general, starts with prevention, and we also understand that we work together to make the time to help our Families and children,” said Brenda Jackson, director of Cumberland County Social Services. “With the integration of Fort Bragg services, I believe we have the model for the state when you start looking at that partnership between the local community and the military installation. It’s important that we are integrated and that we work and collaborate together. We realize that it’s not an individual department responsible. We are in this together and it really does take a village to raise a child.”