Army Family Advocacy Program

Commander's Desk Guide

Intervention and Treatment

[The Commander's Role] [A Map to Support Soldiers and Families in Crisis] [The Multi-Disciplinary Team Approach] [Support the Recommendations of the CRC] [Disciplinary and Administrative Actions]

The Commander's Role: FAP Intervention/Treatment

[Reporting Requirement] [Managing Reports of Abuse] [Receiving Notification of a Report]
[What to Expect After a Report] [Defining Abuse]  

Commanders have specific responsibilities that play a major role in supporting the team process which assists soldiers and families in crisis.

The Family Advocacy Program's multi-disciplinary team approach supports a commander's efforts to assist soldiers and families who are at risk or involved in fmaily violence. Although Commanders and First Sergeants prefer to prevent family crisis through prevention/intervention activities, there are times when it is difficult to ease the kinds of stress that trigger abusive patterns. Commanders support the multi-disciplinary team's intervention and treatment efforts by meeting their responsibilities in the following areas:

Reporting Requirement

This directive openly reinforces that family violence is not acceptable behavior and needs to be reported. But it should also be clear that the Army is willing to provide consistent support to soldiers and families who cooperate by stopping the violent behavior and following a recommended plan for intervention and treatment.

Top of Page

Back to the Commander's Role

Commander's Responsibility

(According to: AR 608-18, paras 1-7b(4) and 3-7 a and c)

Top of Page

Back to the Commander's Role

Protocol for Managing Reports of Abuse

There are standard steps to coordinate the gathering of facts once a report of abuse surfaces. The effectiveness of the process is strongly linked with the team members' and commander's understanding and facilitation of responsibilities. Given that crises require swift intervention, close coordination is critical to ensure that responsibilities are clearly delineated. CRC members have the skills and professional training required to assess family violence situations. Commanders must support the established system for assisting families.

Receiving Notification of a Report

Unit Commander


Provides preliminary assessment, short term and long term recommendations to the unit commander.

Coordinates with civilian law enforcement for off post reports and with Criminal Investigation Division (CID) for criminal investigations.

Will be contacted during the assessment phase.

Will be notified by MTF designee to screen the registry for previous child or spouse abuse incidents.

Figure 9, Reporting and Intervention Protocol, presents an overview of the management of reports of child and spouse abuse from the initial report to preliminary assessment and final recommendations.

Top of Page

Back to the Commander's Role


What to Expect After a Report Has Been Made

Crisis situations often do not leave much time for commanders to plan strategies. There may be the need to respond by reacting to the information immediately, rather than having the opportunity to think through all the family dynamics and protocols involved. Close coordination with the CRC's chair will facilitate a smooth process. The following examples give you some idea of what to expect when child or spouse abuse incidents surface.

See: The Directory of Programs and Services for a list of the designated CRC members, e.g. Case Manager, C-SWS (page 23). These professionals support commanders by providing accurate information and assisting with responses.

Figure 9, Reporting and Intervention Protocol, represents a dual intervention process. While SWS/CRC does a clinical/treatment assessment, law enforcement (CID, MPI, PM) conducts and investigates for any suspected criminal activity.


Top of Page

Back to the Commander's Role

Defining Child and Spouse Abuse

The definitions in Figure 10, Definitions of Child and Spouse Abuse, will guide you on understanding the nature of child or spouse abuse for an existing allegation and the treatment recommendations, and for behaviors you are encouraged to report. Child abuse and spouse abuse include minor, moderate, and severe forms of abuse. Note that the list in Figure 10 is not all inclusive. It is also important to note that state laws have varying definitions.

See: Appendix B: The glossary defines the terms in AR 608-18 (beginning on page 93).

Top of Page

Back to the Commander's Role

A Map to Support Soldiers and Families in Crisis

Military soldiers and families, like other individuals and families, sometimes manage stress in a harmful and destructive way. It is inevitable that everyone experiences some hardships in their lives. When coping skills and resources are inadequate, it is not surprising that responses to stress are out of control. It is a challenge to meet the different needs of soldiers and families because each family situation is unique. The following chart offers a variety of approaches for balancing the responses of soldiers and families to crisis.

Commander's Responsibility (According to 608-18, para 1-7b (10))

Figure 11, A Map to Help Balance Soldiers' and Families' Response to Crisis, presents a number of typical reactions and offers a variety of responses that may help commanders to communicate with soldiers and families in crisis..




(lacks focus)


What is happening to us?

Why is this happening?

I just can't see it, other peoples' kids stay home by themselves.


Redefine the situation and establish why it is a problem.

Review one step at a time one action plan.

Reinforce working things out through cooperation and communication.


(burdened and emotional, often dramatic)

We can't take anything else.

We will take you down if you keep trying to help.

Elicit curiosity about something that has worked out.

Increase self sufficiency by having them explore support they can use.

Present firm choices.


(will challenge you)

You can tell me what to do, but I will not listen.

We tried everything and nothing ever changes.

Remind them that they always have choices.

Restate the possible consequences.

Recall positive attributes of person or family that can be used.

Remind them that others experience similar situations.



Why should I care? Nobody cares about me. It is each person

for himself in this family.

Redefine the situation and establish why it is a problem.

State clear consequences.

Show interest in military career goals.



It was only a push and I only held my hand over his/her mouth.

Yes sir, it happened but it is no big deal.

This was blown out of proportion.

Be alert to the words "only," and "just,"; this would be rare if it has reached visibility.

Present facts (e.g. read the blotter or medical evaluations, describe severity of abuse).

Consider whether there is a pattern or history.


(blames others)

If she would have done what I told


Those people don't need to be in my business.

Yes sir, it happened, but it isn't my fault.

We have done our share.

Remember they may shift the focus from themselves to you (e.g. Sir, you have kids/wife/husband-you know how it is).

Convey that abusive behavior of any form is not acceptable.

Restate consequences.

Denying He/She is out to get me in trouble.

Those people are out on a witch hunt.

Very common response. Caution believing the denial.

Ask soldier/family member what they think. Ask them what they would do.


Top of Page

Back to a Map to Support Soldiers and Families in Crisis

The Multi-Disciplinary Team Approach

The Family Advocacy Program's multi-disciplinary teams emphasize building the strengths, skills, and abilities that help soldiers and families to attain self-reliance (intervention/treatment responsibilities shared with commander).

Commander's Responsibility

(According to AR 608-18, para 1-7b(3) and (5))

Functions of the Case Review Committee

It is essential that reciprocal communication exists to provide consistent and integrated support to soldiers and families. The Army expects leadership and support from commanders who are working with soldiers and families at risk. The Army does not expect you to be a psychologist, doctor, lawyer and social worker as well. The CRC team, composed of professional staff who have experience working in the areas of child and spouse abuse, was created to assist commanders with managing soldiers and families who require intervention.

Top of Page

Back to the Multi-Disciplinary Team Approach

Support the Recommendations of the CRC

It is vital to the success of any intervention/treatment and safety efforts that the CRC work jointly with commanders. This process depends on consistent and open communication.

Commander's Responsibility

(According to AR 608-18, paras 1-7b(6)(7) (8c and d), 3-9, 3-29)(2))

Initiate Safety Measures

The protection of soldiers and families is a primary goal of intervention/ treatment. It is vital to a successful intervention and treatment effort that the CRC work jointly with Command to ensure a safe environment.

Criteria Used to Assess Safety Factors (this list is not all inclusive)

Commander's Responsibility

(According to AR 608-18, para 3-25b)

Assist the CRC to facilitate recommended safety measures.

Typical CRC Recommendations

May include any combination of educationally-based and clinically-based programs and disciplinary or administrative actions.

Commander's Actions

May include disciplinary or administrative actions.

Commander's Actions

Top of Page

Back to Initiate Safety Measures

Disciplinary and Administrative Actions

Coordination with the CRC will alleviate the effects on the soldier and the family so as not to create further hardships (e.g. increased financial strain, family members being displaced from housing, etc.). The following is a quick reference of the many available options to deal with misconduct or deficiencies in performance. This is not meant to be an exhaustive listing. You are urged to coordinate with appropriate support staff (e.g. SJA).

Commander's Responsibility

(According to AR 608-18, paras 4-4, 3-25, 1-7b(7)(8))

The commander may initiate and coordinate measures that serve to protect individuals from harm, and to prevent further discord, intimidation, or obstruction of justice, and to give consequences for failure to show progress in treatment. But consider CRC recommendations:

A range of actions is available:

(According to AR 608-18 para 3-25b(6) for procedures to be followed)

Measure taken when a family members' presence is embarrassing to the US, prejudicial to order, morale, and discipline.

(According to AR 608-18 para 3-25b (6)(d) on the use of this procedure)

Generally means that the family member involved in or victimized by the abuse will return with the soldier to the US where the courts will be more readily available to address the abuse problem and protect the victim.

Top of Page

Back to Disciplinary and Administrative Actions

Table of Contents

1996 Edition 2, Family Life Development Center/Cooperative Extension, Cornell University

This material is based upon work supported by the Extension Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, under special project number 92-EXCA-3-0221. It was developed for the U. S. Army Community and Family Support Center, Family Advocacy Program through an interagency support agreement, USDA Extension Services, and Cornell University, Family Life Development Center/Cooperative Extension.

NOTE: THIS MATERIAL may be reproduced for FAP use.