Rally against violence and abuse in military families

FAYETTEVILLE A group of advocates say they want to draw attention to what they call an alarming increase in violence and abuse in military families.

The problem activist say is that soldiers are trained to be violent and the stress of war and fatigue makes it worse. They say the military is downplaying the issue.

Demonstrators are a familiar sight at Fort Bragg's gates, but they weren't protesting the war abroad, but what they call a growing conflict of domestic violence here on the home front.

"People are trained to take other people's lives," community activist Marena Groll said. "There is no microcosm about that, and now we are starting to see that."

The group hopes to raise awareness of domestic violence in the military.

They point to recent murders of marine Cpl Maria Lauterback whose charred remains were found in the backyard of a fellow Marine; Spec. Megan Touma's whose body was found in a Fayetteville motel; Lt Holly Wimunic who was murdered investigators say by her estranged husband; and Sgt Christina Smith who was stabbed to death September 30.

As evidence they say the military isn't doing enough to address the problem.

"Military leadership is not doing enough to educate and train bring soldiers home from war and protect their wives and children." veteran John Heuer said.

Army officials disagree. They say troops returning from combat are given extra counseling before and after they get home.

At a press conference earlier this year, officials pointed out that the Army offers more counseling and domestic assistance programs than the private sector.

But Wendy Klingsporn, whose husband is an 82nd solider, says domestic abuse is still a problem.

"And I feel that men view that it's the woman's fault and they say when something bad happens, 'oh she was doing such and such,' it shouldn't be that way," Klingsporn said.

Protestors acknowledged domestic violence is increasing throughout society, but they say the military needs a better way to identify and prevent domestic violence in its ranks.

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