Monday, November 24, 2014

Involving the Chain of Command - When is it appropriate?

A recent post on my Facebook page for army wives promoted me to write this piece. Please remember that this is my personal opinion. Where there are facts I will put (fact) before the statement. 

There seems to be some disagreement among the "spouse community" as to when it's appropriate to involve a soldiers Chain of Command in their "personal affairs". I'm sure most people can agree that there are times when CoC involvement is needed, but when exactly are those times? 

First, I'll deal with the "cheating problem" -- (Fact - Adultery is a crime punishable under Article 134 of the UCMJ) - in the 12 1/2 years that I have been a military spouse, cheating seems to happen often, and everywhere. While adultery is against military law, in my personal opinion, getting the command involved is situational. For example: if your spouse cheats and you decide to stay and work it out, I see it pointless to involve the command. Or, if your spouse cheats and you decide to leave (with kids), I also find it pointless to involve the command. Why? THE CHILDREN. If you go to command with proof of adultery and they decide to take action against the soldier, he could lose rank and/or pay. That hurts the children in the long run when it comes to his financial obligation to them. Now, if the cheating co-exists with physical and verbal abuse, or the soldier is neglecting duties (like bills) at home as a result of the adulterous relationship, then I think the command should be involved. 

Next, I'd like to touch on abuse -- emotional, verbal and/or physical abuse, against the spouse and/or children. (Fact - Army Regulation 608-18 establishes the Army policy for handling domestic violence issues.)  This is a situation, in my personal opinion, where it is extremely important for the command to be notified! If a soldier is being abusive at home, there is obviously something "wrong" with them and they need help immediately. Not only for the sake of the spouse/kids, but for the sake of themselves as well. You can say "oh the spouse should just leave", but we all know that many times the abuser has broken them down so bad that they feel it's impossible to leave (especially without help). And say they do leave, who will the abuser turn his attention to next? The abuser needs help, along with his victims. 

There have been times where women have written into my Facebook page about physical abuse against them and their children at the hands of their spouse, the service member. They were afraid and confused and didn't know how to get out of a bad situation. Every single one of those times, I found the information I needed (sometimes with the help of a few trusted friends) to contact, and forward the message, to the soldiers command, or unit Chaplin. I know, I know... THE HORROR! How could I do that? Why didn't I mind my business?! Simple. They came to me for help. If I did nothing and later found out a spouse or child was killed, or injured so bad they were in the hospital, I couldn't live with the guilt of knowing I could've helped but done nothing. One woman wrote me back and thanked me. Her husbands command got to the root of the problem and he was getting the help he needed and they, as a family, were on the road to recovery. 

Lastly, alcohol and/or drug abuse, this includes prescription drugs. Now, let's be honest. Who honestly wants to work with someone who is abusing alcohol and drugs? Not only does that put the abuser at risk for accidents at work, but everyone around them. If a soldier is abusing a substance, the need to enroll in ASAP, The Army Substance Abuse Program. (Fact - AR 600-85 says the command must be involved). Alcohol and drug abuse combined with depression and PTSD (among other issues service members deal with) is a recipe for disaster. In my personal opinion, getting the Chain of Command involved isn't even an option, it's a must. I would rather my husband hate me for involving command in a serious issue than end up dead because I didn't try to help. That's just me though. 

I'm going to ask members of my fan page about reasons they think you SHOULD NOT involve a soldiers command. That will be my next post. 

Instagram - jamielynn1027

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