NORFOLK, Va. - Victims of domestic violence in the military are asking lawmakers to help ensure more accountability within the ranks as they share deeply personal stories.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence affects millions of people, both men and women, of every walk of life.
Research shows nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. The military is no exception.
The House Armed Services Committee's military personnel subcommittee held a hearing in mid-September called "Shattered Families, Shattered Service: Taking Military Domestic Violence Out of the Shadows."
If you or someone you know needs help in a domestic violence situation, reach out by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or chat at http://www.thehotline.org
The hearing included raw and emotional testimony from three survivors of military domestic violence.
Kate Ranta, a former Air Force spouse, told lawmakers about how her husband threatened her and her young son with a gun while they lived in military housing. She said an administrative punishment allowed him to retire and a year later, shoot both her and her father while her son watched.
"A bullet went through my right hand. He shot my dad point-blank in his left side and I thought my dad had died. A bullet also went through my left breast, just missing my heart," she testified.
"[He] did this in front of William, his own son, who was only 4. His own son who screamed, 'Don’t do it, Daddy; don’t shoot Mommy,'" she continued, adding that she, her father and son managed to escape and all lived.
"All of this was avoidable. I hold his command fully responsible. They knew he was dangerous, but instead those chose not to do a thing about it."
During September's hearing, A.T. Johnson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, responded to the survivors who shared their stories.
"We hear you, and we will continue to improve our programs and services. You and all other victims of violence deserve nothing less."
"We recognize that domestic abuse presents human factor challenges that require continual training, education and improvement in the effectiveness and responsiveness of our system," Johnson added.
In April of this year, a report from the Department of Defense Inspector General evaluated responses of the military branches to domestic violence incidents.
According to the report, the Inspector General "determined that Military Service law enforcement organizations did not consistently comply with DoD policies when responding to nonsexual domestic violence incidents with adult victims."
There are resources available from the Navy here.