KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE --
Domestic violence and many of the surrounding issues go against the three fundamental and enduring Air Force values: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. Whether witnessed, affected personally, or never encountered, domestic violence plays a role in our everyday lives.
Edith Wegner, 377th Air Base Wing violence prevention integrator, encourages Team Kirtland to be aware of the reasons why domestic violence exists, what it is, and what we can do to help prevent it.
“A lot of people think ‘well how did she get into it,” or “it’s her fault because she’s staying… when in fact it is a very, very complex layered issue and it’s not as easy as saying that the victim is staying.” Wegner emphasized “it can happen to anyone.”
Some recent statistics that Wegner provided touch on just how much these issues affect our military. Approximately two in three veteran women and two in four veteran men in the U.S. report having experienced intimate partner violence in their lives.
Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crimes. Intimate partner violence is most common against women between the ages of 18-24 years old, and one in seven women and one in 18 men have been stalked.
With over ten years of experience working with domestic violence in the military Wegner believes education and awareness of the problem are the first steps.
“[Within the military] the workplace is 24/7,” said Wegner. “So anything that is violence related is something that needs awareness and prevention.”
Her office is focused on education and prevention of sexual assault and suicide, but also covers domestic violence, workplace bullying, substance use and abuse, sexual harassment, and anything violence related that could occur within the workplace and Air Force community.
She works daily on primary prevention, education, training and awareness of all of these issues and how people can contribute to influencing change positively and directly.
“Local statistics help fuel the solutions”, she said. “I get the overall ‘here’s what’s going on in the military, …here’s what’s going on in the Air Force …and here are the specifics of Kirtland,’ …it’s a funnel and my job is to take all that information from big picture to little picture.”
Wegner states, “I provide pebbles and rocks,” in describing how she proposes solutions. “Here are your little solutions - the pebbles, and here are the things that can turn into big rocks - the bigger solutions… so the pebbles can be anything from finances, relationship troubles to deployments. The bigger rocks are the tougher issues like suicide and sexual assault.”
The biggest idea Wegner would like people to take away from this month is that “if you can help, do it.” Become informed, ask questions, and help safely whenever you can. Remember, there is always a story and your intervention might be the action that helps someone out of a bad situation.
The Air Force-wide Violence Prevention Program uses strategies and training from the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program and the Suicide Prevention Program.
The Violence Prevention Program can be reached at 505-246-0288 or DSN 846-0288.