House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel: Hearings on Domestic Violence in the Military (September 18, 2019)

Shattered Families, Shattered Service: Taking Military Domestic Violence Out of the Shadows -US House Armed Services Committee (September 18, 2019)

“We are here today because domestic violence has become a forgotten crisis in our military. It has been 15 years since a DOD task force analyzed domestic violence within the military, yet we have seen unsettling warning signs since. Within the last few months, DOD reports have highlighted concerning failures in our services’ domestic violence systems. The DOD has not responded urgently. Today, we will hear from three survivors of domestic violence in the military who are bravely coming forward to share their experiences in the hope that others may be helped. Because we lack data that is recent, plentiful, or granular, we must rely on survivors, advocates and experts to help us understand the unique challenges of dealing with this crisis within the military.” Read more from House Armed Services Committee Chairwoman Jackie Speier here.

Domestic Violence Survivors

Survivors of domestic violence with Rep. Jackie Speier (Photo: Rohini Hughes, NMFAO)

Panel 1:

Mr. Brian Clubb
Coordinator, Military & Veterans Advocacy Program
Battered Women’s Justice Project

Mr. David S. Lee
Director of Prevention Services
PreventConnect

Ms. Arlene Vassell
Vice President of Programs, Prevention & Social Change
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

Mrs. Rohini Hughes
Survivor and Advocate
National Military Family Advocacy Organization

Ms. Kate Ranta
Survivor and Advocate

Ms. Leah Olszewski
Survivor and Advocate

Panel 2:

Mrs. A.T. Johnston
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, Department of Defense

Mr. Kenneth Noyes
Associate Director, DOD Family Advocacy Program (Military Family Readiness Policy), Department of Defense

Related Links:
Congressional Testimony | National Center on Domestic & Sexual Violence
Domestic Violence in Military Families
Rep. Braley introduces Holley Lynn James Act
Law protecting military victims of sexual assault discussed
Woman claims Army is protecting abusive husband
Military Domestic Violence and Child Abuse | C-SPAN
Tillis Chairs Hearing on Domestic Violence and Child Abuse in the Military
Heinrich Questions Army Nominee On Domestic Violence Loophole
Senator Hirono Conducts Hearing on Military Domestic Violence
High risk of military domestic violence on the home front
Kirsten Gillibrand Pleads for Military to Review Sexual Abuse, Domestic Violence Allegation: ‘We Have Grave Concerns’ for Their Safety
The UCMJ May Get A Domestic Violence Update To Prevent The Next Texas Church Shooting
Sexual Assault in the Mililtary | C-SPAN
Military Not Following Own Rules for On-Base Domestic Violence Investigations
Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Case on Doctrine Preventing Military Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
A Unique Military Program Helps Sexual Assault Survivors. But Not All of Them.
Bill giving soldiers right to sue for medical malpractice passes House
Senators introduce bill that would allow service members to sue for medical malpractice
Bid to allow troops to sue for military medical malpractice hits Senate snag
Subcommittee on Military Personnel: Shattered Families, Shattered Service: Taking Military Domestic Violence Out of the Shadows
Opening Statement Chairwoman Jackie Speier, Subcommittee on Military Personnel, Shattered Families, Shattered Service: Taking Military Domestic Violence Out of the Shadows September 18, 2019

Shattered Families, Shattered Service: Taking Military Domestic Violence Out of the Shadows
Congresswoman Speier Holds First House Armed Services Committee Hearing on Domestic Violence in Over 15 Years
House Armed Services Committee tackling sexual assault in the military
Hearing On Military Domestic Violence | NPR
Lawmakers Hear Emotional Stories From ‘Forgotten Crisis’ Of Military Domestic Violence | NPR
Is military domestic violence a ‘forgotten crisis’? | Military Times
Abuse survivors calls domestic violence “black eye of our military” | Connecting Vets
Outreach Key in Addressing Domestic Violence | Department of Defense
Military domestic violence investigation launched | Enid News
Commands Protect Troops and Fail Families in Domestic Abuse Cases, Victims Say | Military.com
Federal Register :: Transitional Compensation (TC) for Abused Dependents

MJFA Research

Domestic violence is more likely to lead to homicide and leaving the abuser is by far the most dangerous time for victims.

People Magazine Published ‘A War at Home’: Five Military Spouses Slain in Six Weeks at Fort Bragg (August 12, 2002)

Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Army Wives by Tanya Biank (February 7, 2006)

“December 2, 2002, President Bush signed into law an act that makes domestic violence protective orders enforceable on military installations.”

LCpl Maria Lauterbach/Homicide (2007)

Maria Lauterbach Sexual Assault Hearing (2008) (this was sexual assault and interpersonal violence)

Defense STRONG Act passed (2011) (includes expedited transfer if sexually assaulted)

Jennifer Norris Testimony to HASC (2013) (includes testimony similar to domestic abuse)

Ban on Women in Combat Lifted (2013) (this happened the same day of HASC hearings and as a result it overshadowed the hearings)

Military Policy Recommendations (MJFA) (went to DC and visited congressional members, expansion of expedited transfer policy, independent investigations)

Washington DC Presentation on Fort Hood (MJFA) (went to DC and visited congressional members, status of forces at post with most recorded suicides)

History: The Military and Domestic Abuse (MJFA)

Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) (McCaskill was voted out and Arizona Senator Martha McSally & Senator Joni Ernst are standing in the way now)

Open Letter in support of the MJIA (independent investigations, disband convening authority powers)

NBC Washington: 62 Percent of Military Sex Assault Reports Result in Retaliation (May 18, 2015) (Retaliation is preventing our service members and military families from reporting felony crime)

Deadly Women: 30 Military and Veteran Homicide Cases Featured on Investigation Discovery (Domestic violence is happening to men too, we see a higher prevalence of female crime because the military is 85% male att)

Rep Mike Turner Says New Military Legislation Closes a Loophole & Includes Domestic Violence Victims in the Expedited Transfer Policy (unclear what the status of this legislation is, could not find an update)

Gillibrand: The Military Justice Improvement Act Would Give Service Members a Justice System That Works (July 1, 2019)

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Recent DV/Homicides:

Samatha Field/Army Spouse (2018)

Abree Boykin/Army Spouse (2018)

Sgt. Brittany Silvers/Army (2018)

Debbie Forrest/Army Spouse (2019)

Staff Sgt Amy Colburn/Army (2019)

Sgt. Tyrone Hassel/Army (2019)

(this list does not include all victims by a long shot)

*********************************************************

DV/Homicide History:

Sgt. Bill Coffin (1997) > (Army’s inappropriate handling of DV/DA dates back to 1997)

30 Military Domestic Abuse>Homicide Cases

Non Combat Deaths/Females/Iraq

Non Combat Deaths/Females/Afghanistan

Non Combat Deaths/Females/Other Areas

Cases of Significance:

Kamisha Block (2007) (Murder-Suicide in Iraq, case reopened in 2019 to investigate negligence of Chain of Command)

Holley Wimunc (2008) > Holley Lynn James Act (similar to MJIA)

Recruit Michelle Miller (2013) > Michelle’s Law (similar to MJIA)

Dawn Giffa/Army Spouse (2015) > Lawsuit Against Army (Negligence at Fort Hood)

Pfc. Karlyn Ramirez (2015) > (abuse, child custody, homicide)

Pfc. Shadow McClaine (2016) > (abuse, divorce, homicide)

Pvt. Paige Briles (2016) > (abuse, pending divorce, suspected homicide)

“Leave No Soldier Behind”: The Unsolved Mystery of the Soldier Who Died in the Watchtower | Vanity Fair (January 8, 2019)

Matthew Brown Army.png

Matthew Warren Brown, U.S. Army (via Vanity Fair Facebook)

Is the Army botching its investigations into noncombatant deaths?

I. The Gun Tower

“On the morning of May 11, 2008, a U.S. Army private second class named Matthew Warren Brown died of a single gunshot wound to the head while manning a watchtower at a forward operating base in Afghanistan. Brown was 20 years old. He was a skinny, all-American kid, a bit aimless but affable and unassuming. He was a good guy. You could see it in his face. At his funeral back home in Pennsylvania, some 200 people showed up. In the aftermath of Brown’s death, army investigators created files about the circumstances. The bullet that killed him was fired from his own weapon, an M4 carbine. He was working the six A.M. shift, alone in the watchtower by the fortified main gate to the base. The tower was known as the Gun Tower. It was made of concrete, and looked medieval when viewed from the outside. It was three stories tall. On the second and third floors it had openings covered with two-piece Plexiglas windows, some of which had broken off and been left lying in shards on the floors.” Read more from Vanity Fair here.

Related Links:
Pvt Matthew Warren Brown | Find A Grave
DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Pvt. Matthew W. Brown
Army Pvt. Matthew W. Brown | Honor the Fallen
Fort Bragg Soldier dies in Afghanistan
Soldier from Fort Bragg dies in Afghanistan
Fort Bragg soldier dies from injuries in Afghanistan
Zelienople soldier killed in Afghanistan, father says
Soldier from Zelienople killed in Afghanistan
Zelienople soldier who died in Afghanistan buried today
“Leave No Soldier Behind”: The Unsolved Mystery of the Soldier Who Died in the Watchtower | Vanity Fair
Family of soldier found dead in Afghanistan in 2008 says he did not commit suicide as claimed
Family of soldier who was found dead in Afghanistan watchtower in 2008 says he did not commit suicide, as the military claims, and had told them he feared he would be killed over his role in a drug ring that was being run on-base by a ‘thug’ sergeant
Army Pvt. Matthew Brown Died As a Result of a Non-Combat Related Incident in Afghanistan; Death Ruled Suicide But Family Alleges Murder in Vanity Fair Publication (May 11, 2008)

Army Reservist Sgt. Christina Shoenecker Died of a Non-Combat Related Incident in Baghdad, Iraq (February 19, 2018)

Christina Schoenecker

Sgt. Christina Schoenecker, U.S. Army Reserve

Army Reservist Sgt. Christina Schoenecker, 26, died of a non-combat related incident on February 19, 2018 in Baghdad, Iraq. Sgt. Schoenecker was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve on behalf of the 89th Sustainment Brigade, 451st Expeditionary Sustainment Command in Wichita, Kansas. Sgt. Schoenecker’s home of record is listed as Arlington, Kansas. According to Honor the Fallen at Military Times, Sgt. Schoenecker enlisted in the military in May 2009 and served as a human resources specialist. At the time of the press release, the incident was under investigation which is typical with any non combat death but an official cause of death has not been determined or publicized by authorities. The site Popular Military shared that a source close to them in Iraq in an unofficial report believed it was a suicide. This could not be confirmed in other media reports.

In the News:

The body of U.S. Army Sergeant Christina Marie Schoenecker is escorted from the Hutchinson Airport to Elliot Mortuary by the Patriot Guard, Hutchinson Police and the Hutchinson Fire Departments. SGT Schoenecker died February 19, 2018, from a non-combat related incident, in Baghdad, Iraq at the age of 26. She will be buried in her hometown of Arlington, Kansas, Monday, March 5, 2018. -The Hutchinson News (March 2, 2018)

U.S. Army Sergeant Christina Marie Schoenecker was buried at Arlington Cemetery, Arlington, Kansas on Monday, March 5, 2018. SGT Schoenecker died February 19, 2018, from a non-combat related incident, in Baghdad, Iraq at the age of 26. -The Hutchinson News (March 5, 2018)

Related Links:
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Honor the Fallen: Sgt. Christina M. Schoenecker, U.S. Army Reserve
Christina Marie “Tina” Schoenecker | 1992 – 2018 | Obituary
Kansas soldier dies in Iraq
Kansas soldier dies in non-combat incident in Iraq
Female soldier dies in accident in Iraq
US soldier dies in non-combat incident in Baghdad
SGT Schoenecker’s body returns home
Army Sgt. Christina M. Schoenecker honored in dignified transfer Feb. 22
Army identifies soldier killed in noncombat incident in Baghdad
Army Identifies Sergeant Who Died While Deployed Supporting ISIS Fight
Kansas soldier dies in non-combat incident while supporting ISIS fight in Iraq
U.S. Army sergeant dies in Iraq, unofficial report suggests it was suicide
Mystery surrounds ‘non combat’ death of female soldier battling ISIS in Iraq as her body is returned home and Department of Defence announce an investigation
IGTNT: “She will be sorely missed” | Daily Kos
Funeral held for KS soldier who died last month in Iraq
Family and friends celebrate the life of Christina Schoenecker
Family, friends gather to honor fallen Arlington soldier
SGT Christina Marie Schoenecker’s burial service
Latest U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq
On Memorial Day: Three stories to remember the soldiers we have lost
CJTF-OIR reflects on significant military gains, fighting ISIS in 2018
Non Combat Deaths of Female Service Members in the U.S. Military (Iraq)
Military Policy and Legislation Considerations for the Investigations of Non Combat Death, Homicide, and Suicide of US Service Members

Navy Sailor BM Devon Faulkner Died of a Non Combat Related Injury While Underway on USS Wasp in Mediterranean Sea (September 20, 2016)

FullSizeRender-2 copy

BM Devon Faulkner, U.S. Navy (Photo: http://www.militarytimes.com)

Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Devon Faulkner died of a non combat related injury while underway with the USS Wasp on September 20, 2016. Devon Faulkner was supporting Operation Odyssey Lightning and was forward deployed in the central Mediterranean Sea at the time of his death. According to the Virginia Pilot, Faulkner was “injured aboard the ship while it was on deployment, but no other details about how he was injured were released.” BM Faulkner enlisted in the Navy on December 3, 2015. This was his first assignment after completing basic training and Naval Aviation technical school.

Related Links:
Department of Defense Identifies Navy Casualty
U.S. Navy sailor dies of non-combat injury off Libya
Sailor aboard locally based ship dies overseas
Navy Sailor dies while deployed on Norfolk-based USS Wasp
US Navy sailor from NC dies during Mediterranean operation
Sailor Dies While Supporting ISIS Airstrikes in Mediterranean
Sailor dies aboard USS Wasp in Mediterranean Sea
Injured USS Wasp sailor dies while underway in Mediterranean Sea
Department of Defense identifies Raleigh, NC Navy casualty
U.S. Navy member dies of non-combat-related injury in Libya

NBC Washington: 62 Percent of Military Sex Assault Reports Result in Retaliation (May 18, 2015)

Punishing the Victim Retaliation NBC Washington.jpg

“One of the women interviewed was Lt. Col. Teresa James, the highest ranking officer to come forward with a rape claim in the National Guard, according to a recent report by the Guard. The News4 I-Team first brought you her story when she said she believes her 34-year military career with the West Virginia National Guard was destroyed after she reported her rape. Lt. Col. James attended the news conference and told the I-Team, ‘There’s nothing else they can do to hurt me. They did everything they could possibly do. It’s effecting change. That’s why I’m out today. It’s effecting change, and if I have to speak it, shout it from the rooftops, that’s what I’m going to do.’ Read more from NBC Washington here.

Related Links:
Serving in Silence: Sex Assault Retaliation Complaints Investigated
62 Percent of Military Sex Assault Reports Result in Retaliation
Troops who report sexual assault face retaliation
Highlights of Army National Guard Lt. Col. Teresa James’ Military Sexual Assault and DoD IG Substantiated Retaliation Case
DoD Retaliation Prevention and Response Strategy: Regarding Sexual Assault and Harassment Reports
DoD Retaliation Prevention and Response Strategy Implementation Plan
Military Sex Assault Reports Edge Up; Retaliation Persists
DoD Releases Annual Report on Sexual Assault in Military
Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military
Military Sexual Assault Reports Are Up for the Seventh Year in a Row
Pentagon: Claims of Retaliation for Sexual Offense Complaints on Rise
Reports of Military Sexual Assault, Retaliation Increase
The Biggest Obstacle to the Pentagon’s War on Sexual Assault: The Military Justice System
Military sexual assault reports rise in 2017 but fewer servicemembers faced courts-martial
Sexual assault, harassment spikes at military academies, strategies fail to stem crisis
Reports of sexual assault in the military soar
Pentagon report shows sharp rise in military sexual assaults
Sexual assaults in military rise to more than 20,000, Pentagon survey says
“A cultural rot”: Sex assaults spike at U.S. service academies
Defense Department to make sexual harassment a crime
‘It was rape:’ Wisconsin Army National Guard officer Megan Plunkett says she was retaliated against, disciplined for reporting sexual assaults
Gabbard says ‘there is still a fear of retaliation’ in the military about reporting sexual assault
Senators Hirono, Gillibrand Reintroduce Legislation to Bring Justice to Survivors of Sexual Assault in the Military
Sexual assaults in the military are on the rise. This bill would authorize Congress to intervene
Sexual Assault in the Military | C-SPAN.org

Army Pvt. Matthew Brown Died As a Result of a Non-Combat Related Incident in Afghanistan; Death Ruled Suicide But Family Alleges Murder in Vanity Fair Publication (May 11, 2008)

Matthew Brown

Pvt. Matthew Brown, U.S. Army (photo: Vanity Fair)

Army Pvt. Matthew W. Brown, 20, of Zelienople, Pennsylvania, died May 11, 2008 in Asadabad, Afghanistan from injuries suffered in a non-combat related incident. Pvt. Brown was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom on behalf of the 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Fires Brigade (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. At the time of the incident, the Department of Defense announced Pvt. Brown’s death was under investigation. On January 8, 2019, the family alleged Matthew was murdered in a Vanity Fair publication titled “Leave No Soldier Behind”: The Unsolved Mystery of the Soldier Who Died in the Watchtower.

Related Links:
Pvt Matthew Warren Brown | Find A Grave
DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Pvt. Matthew W. Brown
Army Pvt. Matthew W. Brown | Honor the Fallen
Fort Bragg Soldier dies in Afghanistan
Soldier from Fort Bragg dies in Afghanistan
Fort Bragg soldier dies from injuries in Afghanistan
Zelienople soldier killed in Afghanistan, father says
Soldier from Zelienople killed in Afghanistan
Zelienople soldier who died in Afghanistan buried today
“Leave No Soldier Behind”: The Unsolved Mystery of the Soldier Who Died in the Watchtower | Vanity Fair
Family of soldier found dead in Afghanistan in 2008 says he did not commit suicide as claimed
Family of soldier who was found dead in Afghanistan watchtower in 2008 says he did not commit suicide, as the military claims, and had told them he feared he would be killed over his role in a drug ring that was being run on-base by a ‘thug’ sergeant
“Leave No Soldier Behind”: The Unsolved Mystery of the Soldier Who Died in the Watchtower | Vanity Fair (January 8, 2019)

Fort Drum Army Pfc. Gary Kalinofski Died of a Non-Hostile Gunshot Wound at Camp Magrath While on a Peacekeeping Mission in Kosovo (March 4, 2002)

US Army Seal

Army Pfc. Gary S. Kalinofski, 21, died of a gunshot wound at Camp Magrath near Pristina, Kosovo on March 4, 2002. The military casualty announcement confirmed the gunshot wound was not a result of engagement with hostile forces. Pfc. Kalinofski’s home of record was listed as Fayetteville, North Carolina. Pfc. Kalinofski served in Kosovo since November 2001 in a peacekeeping mission role on behalf of A Company, Task Force 1-32nd Infantry Regiment at Fort Drum, New York. According to the book Army Wives by Tanya Biank, the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) ruled that Pfc. Gary Kalinofski died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Gary was survived by his parents; his dad also served in the Army and was in Kosovo at the time Gary took his own life. The Army Wives author shared that Gary’s parents were interviewed by Army CID but they didn’t have any insight or knowledge to help Army CID understand why Gary chose to die by suicide.

Editor’s Note: There was no Department of Defense press release for the announcement of the death of Army casualty Pfc. Gary S. Kalinofski in Kosovo.

Related Links:
U.S. Soldier Shot In Kosovo
U.S. peacekeeper diesfrom gunshot wound
U.S. Peacekeeper Dies in Kosovo
U.S. soldier dies of wounds in Kosovo
KFOR unveils memorial to those who died serving as Kosovo peacekeepers