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February 4, 2014
Rachel Ponder, APG News

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - APG?'s Army Community Service recently welcomed two new Family Advocacy Program employees. The Family Advocacy Program is a congressionally mandated program intended to prevent and reduce incidences of violence and create an environment intolerant of domestic abuse.

Social Worker Sandra Ackerman serves as the Family Advocacy Program Manager (FAPM). She is responsible for briefing Soldiers and civilians on how to recognize domestic violence, where and how to report it, and how victims can get help.

?"My top priority is making sure the community is violence-free," she said.

Ackerman, an Air Force retiree, said in addition to briefings, her goal is to provide free classes to the community on bullying, anger management, parenting, relationships, and more.
Ackerman is currently working on a doctorate. is psychology research and has worked on several for ACS on several Army installations in Germany.

?"Who better to work for, than for those that protect your country" she said.

Michael Farlow is the new ACS Victim Advocate Coordinator. Farlow is specially trained to handle cases of Family violence involving Soldiers and their Families. The victim advocate is available to help empower domestic violence victims to find the resources that they need. Farlow can help victims come up with a safety plan, find emergency shelter and other needed resources, and offer moral support. In some cases, the victim advocate can serve as a liaison, accompanying the victim to meetings with lawyers and to court.

?"When you are a victim advocate, you are coming in contact with people going through one of their worst points in their life," he said. ?"All you are is the hand reaching up to lift them up, that is all we can do."

Farlow is an Army veteran and has served as a police officer at Fort Riley, Kans., and at APG, from 2000 to 2013 as a detective and a community police officer. In this position, he received the APG Police Officer of the Year award in 2006 and the Maryland D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year award in 2011.

?"His knowledge of the community and how it functions is a real boon to our program. ?" Ackerman said.

The Army provides two types of reporting options, restricted and unrestricted. Farlow can speak to victims confidentially through restricted reporting, which does not involve a military chain of command or law enforcement, with some exceptions. For example, if there is child abuse, or the victim is in immediate danger, then the victim advocate must report the incident.
Farlow will assist with educational briefings, classes and events.

?"I think what defines me as a person is Family, Family values," Farlow said. ?"That is what I am all about, helping Families."

Ackerman and Farlow work in Bldg. 2503 on the lower floor. Ackerman can be reached at 410-278-7572 or, and Farlow can be reached at 410-278-2435, or

APG Victim Advocates can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on the Domestic Hotline at 410-652-6048, or call the DOD SAFE Helpline at 877-995-5247. The Harford County Mobile Crisis Team at 410-638-5248 provides 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention.