The Hidden Casualties Of War

The Army is cracking down on sexual abuse in the ranks. One-third of service-women and 6 percent of servicemen say they've been victims. This week, the army said it will hire more prosecutors to bring perpetrators to justice. Meanwhile, critics say the military needs to do more about another crime women, being assaulted, beaten, even raped by their military husbands or boyfriends. A CBS News investigation finds more than 25,000 spouses and domestic partners have been attacked over the past decade. Nearly 90 spouses have died. The numbers are growing.

It can be as deadly as combat: Domestic violence in the U.S. military.

Nineteen-year-old Spc. Brandon Bare is accused of killing his own wife.

Jessacia Patton is a survivor.

"I had bruising on my head, cuts under my eyes and lips and my whole body was like a big bruise," Patton told CBS News anchor Katie Couric.

When Spc. Lenny McIntire returned to Fort Lewis, Wash., his wife says he was a changed man.

After his second tour of duty in Iraq with the Army Rangers, she says he wasn't sleeping and he was filled with anger - especially when his infant daughter would cry.

"Any noise that she made just bothered him," Patton said. "He said it reminded him too much of Iraq and the kids that he shot and the screaming - he couldn't take it, being around it."

That anger turned to violence. He pleaded guilty to child abuse after beating three-month old Bella.

Then, a few months later in a drunken rage, threatening her with a gun, he attacked and raped his wife.

"I probably laid there for about an hour and just cried," she said. "I had given up. I didn't care if he came in and killed me, I mean, I was broken."

McIntire was jailed, but for only one night, given extra duty and ordered to sleep in the barracks.

Patton sought help from the chaplain, the Ranger Battalion as well as McIntire's commanding officers - but found no answers.

Couric asked her: "What do you think is the major flaw in the way the U.S. military - at least in your experience - deals with domestic violence?"

"When a soldier beats his wife, the wife falls through the crack," she said. "They make it very impossible to get through the system and get anything done."

It wasn't until Lenny McIntire threatened his fellow soldiers and went AWOL that the Army decided to press charges. Three weeks ago, he was sentenced to seven years in a military prison.

CBS News spoke to several military family advocates who say the system is broken, under-funded and under-staffed.

One former advocate did not want to be identified for fear of retribution.

"I think the Pentagon needs to step in and start a better training program for their commanders," the former advocate said.

Lynn McCollum is the Army director of Family Affairs.

Couric asked her: "According to conversations with a number of victims' advocates, the Army usually rallies around the soldiers and leaves the victim to fend for herself. And then when she finally does get help, the complaint is the system is entirely stacked against her."

"It's disturbing to hear those kinds of comments. Over the last couple of years, we've really put into place and increased the number of victim advocates," McCollum said. "One of our biggest challenges, because we're a large bureaucracy, is getting information out."

It's not only the victims that aren't getting help, it's also the soldiers. CBS News has learned that in case after case, soldiers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan have raised red flags regarding their mental health problems. But they're often ignored - with devastating consequences.

In a post-deployment health assessment obtained by CBS News, one soldier clearly indicates concerns "for potential conflict with his spouse or family members" and that he might "hurt or lose control with someone."

But nothing was done.

A year later, he killed his wife.

"How can this happen? He put it right there on the questionnaire, and nobody did anything about it. How can that happen if you have all these systems and services in place?" Couric asked.

McCollum didn't answer immediately, instead, getting up to confer with colleagues for an answer.

After discussing the incident with her colleagues, McCollum returned to answer the question.

"Obviously, I think in this situation, a mistake probably was made," McCollum said.

Then there is the case of Sgt. James Pitts.

Thursday, in an exclusive interview he tells CBS News how the military failed to help him - or protect his army wife.

As he told Couric: "I've lost everything."




Domestic violence and abuse resources:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE.

  • National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, LoveIsRespect.org, 866-331-9474

  • Family Violence Prevention Fund
    • Katie Couric

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