Anne M. Jackson, an assistant district attorney in the Bell County District Attorney’s Office, and Harker Heights Rotarian Don Nicholas were the guest speakers at the club’s July 31 meeting.
Nicholas and Jackson work together on the Family Violence Task Force.
While living and working here in 1998-1999 in the county attorney’s office, Jackson became interested in family violence cases. She expressed empathy when it comes to having a husband deployed, raising children herself and understanding the challenges faced by families when spouses return home from deployment.
She’s personally faced the pain and frustration of trying to help her husband through the trauma of deployment.
“I had to take six years off from my work with the DA’s Office because being a full-time prosecutor, raising children and having a deployed husband was more than I could handle,” she said.
When she returned to work in 2007 she noticed a dynamic that did not exist pre-9/11. “I saw so many military families hurting, but wasn’t sure how to make the right decisions or the best way to help them,” she said.
Jackson began by meeting people in the community to help her.
She became familiar with people in organizations such as the Children’s Advocacy Center, talked with police officers, detectives and chiefs of police to find out what they were doing in their departments and how the officers were trained in the handling of making arrests in family violence situations. She also got involved in the statewide Texas Council on Family Violence.
“I also talked with licensed family counselors and met with forensic nurses at Scott & White who thoroughly document what happens in those situations. They will call the police, if necessary, so the case can be prosecuted successfully,” Jackson said.
All of this eventually turned into the Central Texas Family Violence Task Force.
“If you want to successfully prevent family violence from happening again, there must be a community coordinated multi-disciplinary response such as the task force,” she said.
One thing that changed her life dramatically was reading a copy of the book “Once a Warrior, Always a Warrior,” written by retired Col. Charles W. Hoge.
“Distributing this book became a ministry for my husband and me because it deals with what we’ve been through which is navigating the transfer from combat to home including combat stress,” she said. “We give out copies whenever we can.”
Instead of sending these soldiers to jail for family violence offences or putting them on probation, Jackson required them to read the book written by Hoge.
“I told them to not think of me as a lawyer but as an English teacher,” she said. “I required them to read it within two weeks and write a book report about it. Then they would come back and we would talk about it.”
Every soldier, both male and female, reported that reading the book helped.
When Jackson sees media coverage of deployed troops coming home in the usual dramatic ways, she almost gets sick to her stomach.
“I wish the camera would follow them home and see what happens over the next two to four weeks when a soldier who is used to having everyone do what they say tries to get a 4-year-old to go to bed or a 7-year-old to do his homework or a wife to stop talking,” she said. “That’s when the real work begins.”