Local News

Coalition Develops Plan Of Action Against Domestic Violence

Posted August 21, 2002

— The military continues to investigate the recent rash of murders involving Fort Bragg soldiers. At the same time, a statewide domestic violence coalition met in Cumberland County to develop a plan of action.

About 100 members of the military, law enforcement and people from other agencies came together Wednesday to make recommendations on stopping domestic violence in the Army and community.

"We do think this is how change occurs. We don't think that absolutely state and federal legislation can make a difference and can increase safety for victims, but we think the real change is going to come from the grassroots community level of people who have decided enough is enough," said Mary Beth Loucks-Sorrell of the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Sharolyn Ziegler, who found herself in an abusive marriage, said she thinks the military needs to do a better job at helping victims of domestic violence.

"When my spouse bailed out of jail, I think they should have had a watch on him instead of letting him retire," she said.

Fort Bragg is also planning its own domestic violence symposium that will be held on post in October.

"We are trying to look at the whole spectrum of how our program is organized with regards to family advocacy programs and crossing with social services to make sure we are set up for success," said Fort Bragg garrison commander Col. Tad Davis.

The five murders involving Fort Bragg soldiers have captured international attention. In three cases, Special Operations soldiers are accused of killing their wives after returning from Afghanistan. Cumberland County Det. Sam Pennica, who investigated most of the cases, said he does not see any connection to their tours of duty.

"The problems we were able to uncover in these marriages were the same types of problems we see in civilian life," he said.

Tyniesse Harrison said she would like to see commanders take more responsibility. Police say her co-worker, Shalmar Franceschi, was killed by her estranged Army husband, Damian Franceschi, in January. Harrison said she believes Damian's boss knew about infidelity and abuse in their marriage.

"He should have done something then to prevent the soldier from moving forward in the military system," she said.

A Fort Bragg spokesperson confirms more families are inquiring about support programs. CARE director Crystal Black said while the deployments may not have led directly to the violence, they could have contributed to it.

"The military has extra stresses that many of us don't have, and so if you leave a marital problem and go away awhile, that marital problem is probably still there and increased," she said.

Looking for similarities and identifying preventive steps are now goals for several different agencies. The Army sent a team to Special Operations Headquarters last week to examine its family advocacy and deployment programs. It also held focus groups.

Fort Bragg may also get more help from Washington. The Pentagon is now thinking about dispatching an epidemiology team from the Army's Office of the Surgeon General.

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