Domestic Violence in the Military


Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is credited with the phrase, “the purpose of the military is to kill people and break things.” Or put another way, “to kill people and blow things up.” Regardless of the branch of service, a recruit can’t graduate from military basic combat training without proving that he or she can handle a military weapon without shooting themselves, their classmates, or the instructors. The only exception is for non-Combatants such as chaplains, corpsmen, nurses, and medical service personnel.

But what happens if a service member is charged with domestic assault or is subject to an order of protection for domestic violence? According to the Lautenberg Amendment, it is a felony for any person previously convicted of a felony or who has been convicted of a misdemeanor for domestic violence, to possess a firearm, ammunition, or explosives.

Additionally, any person who has been subject to a court order that finds that person “represents a credible threat to the physical safety of an intimate partner or a child of that partner” and restrains that person from “harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child,” is forbidden from possessing a weapon, ammunition, or explosives.

So what happens to a service member who falls into one of those categories? Simply put, the service member will likely be discharged. There is no military exception to the Lautenberg Amendment. If you are a service member and you find yourself in a volatile relationship with yelling, shoving or other inappropriate conduct, get out. If not, you may find yourself out of the military.

Also, if you are married to a service member and find yourself the victim of domestic violence, seek help. Service members suffer stresses unknown to the civilian world and often suffer from hidden problems particular to service members. The military has a number of resources available to help deal with issues of domestic violence involving service members and their spouses. But do not delay, as domestic violence can escalate quickly.


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