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MacDill, local community partner to stop domestic violence

by 1st Lt. Larry van der Oord
Chief of Internal Information

MacDill's Family Advocacy Center and nearly 30 other community organizations, have come together as part of a presidential initiative to battle domestic violence.

Through a federal grant administered by Hillsborough County, the Hillsborough County Family Justice Center will co-locate a variety of different service agencies that provide assistance to victims of domestic violence. Available services will include on-site advocacy, comprehensive legal services including protective orders, law enforcement assistance and child care. The FJC site will be secured to protect victims and staff members.

"It's a true community collaboration," said Maj. Anthony Hassan, 6th Medical Operations Squadron. "The FJC will provide a 'one-stop shop' for domestic violence victims."

The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, Bay Area Legal Services, the Spring of Tampa Bay, the State Attorney's Office and Tampa Police Department are just a few of the organizations teamed up with MacDill in the initiative.

The primary goal of this group effort is to improve access to services for victims and their children. By centralizing all the different services into one location, victims will have a much easier time getting the help they need. The end goal is to eliminate domestic violence fatalities by increasing victim's access to needed services.

During phase one of the co-location process, the Tampa Police Department has allocated office space for the FJC at its headquarters. The phase two location is yet to be determined by the FJC partners. The grand opening is scheduled for January 2006.

Kristin Stoycheff of MacDill's Life Skills Support Center will serve as a victim advocate for Macdill.

Her position was dedicated by the Department of Defense to serve at the FJC. Hillsborough County was one of only two military communities awarded FJC grants, and Macdill played an active role in bringing the FJC to Tampa.

Out of her office, Ms. Stoycheff will be available to assist military members and their spouses/families with difficulties which may arise as the result of victimization. Part of her duties will include ensuring that victims and witnesses are treated with fairness, compassion and dignity throughout all aspects of the Criminal Justice System.

"It will be a great service for victims and their families," said Ms. Stoycheff. "We can address multiple needs at one location improving the victim's safety."

"Tampa has a big military population, and I will be the liaison with the community," said Ms. Stoycheff.

"The collaboration in the FJC really shows the community's intolerance toward domestic violence," she said. "It is truly a coordinated community response."

One unique part of her duties will include the ability to work with couples who are unmarried, she said. Her position at the FJC will allow her to help any victim of domestic violence associated with the base. Victims do not have to be active duty members to receive support services.

In addition to its main location downtown, the FJC will have two "spokes," the East satellite and the North satellite. The North satellite will be located at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, and the East satellite will be located at the Spring in Plant City.

The total budget for the FJC is $3 million. The federal funding for the first 18 months is primarily for start-up and first-year expenses, and it will not be renewed. Recurring costs of approximately $2.7 million per year will have to be raised after the FJC grant is over. Those interested in making contributions can e-mail: ccstone@thespring.org.

The FJC partners are considering several sustainability plans for the project, and they are committed to keeping it around for many years to come. For more information about the FJC, Ms. Stoycheff can be reached at 827-9172.

The participation of MacDill's Family Advocacy Center in the FJC is just one of the many programs it is taking part in. Plans are in the works to bring a GS-12 position to MacDill to serve as a response coordinator for sexual assault at MacDill, and a cross-sectional team with members from the wing, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command and the VA are coming together to work in concert to better serve our returning service members from OIF/OEF that may have troubles with post traumatic stress disorder or reintegration challenges.

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