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Task Force Gains New Perspective

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15, 2000 – There's no telling what you'll find yourself doing once you join the armed forces.

Take Marine Corps Maj. Michael Zeliff, for example.

He's served as a company commander, toured Southwest and Southeast Asia with an amphibious expeditionary unit, and spent three years at 29 Palms, the Marine Corps' desert training site near Barstow, Calif. He's seen duty in Somalia; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and at Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia.

Most recently, though, his career has taken a different track. The veteran infantry officer from Jackson, N.H., spent a day in a Kentucky civil court -- as an observer. He spent a day with a police sergeant in Albuquerque, N.M. He then went to Chicago to visit a hospital emergency room and a shelter for battered women.

Zeliff's current mission is to listen and learn about domestic violence. He volunteered to be a staff member on the Defense Task Force on Domestic Violence. This week, he visited Fort Bragg, home of the Army's XVIII Airborne Corps, and the Marines' Camp Lejeune, N.C.

"This job offers a unique opportunity to help people and an opportunity to learn from people who have a dramatically different perspective than I did as an infantry officer or a company commander," he said en route here. "Working with social workers is different from anything I've ever done before. I've really benefited from that perspective."

The task force is divided into working groups in four areas: community collaboration, offender accountability, training and education, and victim safety. Zeliff is the facilitator for community collaboration. He said the group is looking at DoD policies, as well as memoranda of agreement between on-base and off-base agencies.

In March, in accordance with the fiscal 2000 Defense Authorization Act, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen appointed 12 senior military and DoD civilians, and 12 civilian experts to make up the task force.

Cohen appointed Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jack W. Klimp as military co-chair. Klimp is the Marines' deputy chief of staff for manpower and reserve affairs.

Military appointees include staff judge advocates from each service and executive-level officers selected by the services. Commanding generals from Fort Carson, Colo., and Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., and the sergeant major of the Marine Corps are also on the task force.

Civilian appointees include people from the Department of Health and Human Services' Family Violence Prevention and Services Office, state and national sexual assault and domestic violence advocacy groups, law enforcement and state and national judicial policy organization officials.

Civilian members chose Debra Tucker, executive director of the National Training Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence in Austin, Texas, as civilian co-chair.

The task force is looking at how military installations and nearby civilian communities deal with domestic violence. The goal is to determine ways DoD can improve its family advocacy programs and services.

Since its formation, the task force has met twice in Washington to set procedures, receive service briefings and form working groups. A delegation of about 30 task force members and staff made their first site visits to Bragg and Lejeune Sept. 11 to 13. They met with base family advocacy program officials, commanders, first sergeants and military police as well as offenders and victims. The task force members also met with civilian community and law enforcement officials.

The task force is scheduled to visit Norfolk, Va., and Langley Air Force Base, Va., in mid-November. Next year, the task force is scheduled to visit Germany and Italy in the spring, and Japan and Korea in the summer.

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