Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Woods (JBLM, Washington) was fatally stabbed Sunday, January 19, 2014 while trying to stop an assault outside his home. Chase Devyver was arguing with his girlfriend in the early morning hours in a parked car in front of their residence. When the girlfriend exited the vehicle and began walking toward the house, the defendant followed and stabbed her from behind. Shawn awoke to the screams and intervened in the assault but Devyver stabbed him to death. Shawn Woods died protecting a domestic assault victim. She was hospitalized but lived. He is a hero. Woods was slated to retire from the military after serving 20 years on active duty. Devyver was sentenced to 31 years.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month in the United States. I never used to understand domestic violence until I experienced what felt like the same working with men in the military who didn’t want me to be there. This kind of treatment much like the slowly degrading abuse you experience from a significant other in a bad relationship, is what makes the Post Traumatic Stress so bad and your confidence fade away. You are betrayed by the person who you thought you loved or in the case of the military, depended on for your life.
Victims of domestic violence have a hard time escaping the escalating abuse and violence because they are trapped. They are trapped in fear for their lives because they have been threatened many times. When a person leaves a domestic violence relationship is when they are in the most danger. Military personnel cannot leave the situation without permission from their Commander and therefore are forced to work beside those who are stalking, hazing, bullying, harassing, assaulting, and/or threatening them. Military spouses are forced to go the soldier’s Commander and risk the very career that helps sustain them.
I wanted to honor Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Woods, US Army, Joint Base Lewis-McChord (Washington), this Domestic Violence Awareness month. Woods, 38, was a member of Troop A, 8th Squadron, 1st Calvary Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis McChord.
“(Sgt. 1st class) Shawn Woods was a model (non-commissioned officer), leader, husband, father and friend to all of the (Troop A) Family. Woods left a lasting impression on anyone he met, and he was a caring NCO whose Soldiers always looked up to him for advice and leadership,” said 1st Lt. Charles Rugg, the executive officer of Troop A, 8-1 Cav in a release from officials at JBLM. “Woods always lived the Army values and placed the needs of others above his own; he will be truly missed.” (Northwest Military)
I was especially impressed with the valor that Shawn Woods exhibited in the tragic situation that ended his life. Shawn overheard screams one early Sunday morning and investigated the situation. He came upon an assailant who had just stabbed his girlfriend in the back after an argument. In an effort to save the woman, Shawn intervened and was himself stabbed and killed. The woman was hospitalized but lived. Shawn is the epitome of everything we would expect of a soldier, a neighbor, an American. He risked his life to save that of another, something deeply embedded in his warrior ethos mind.
Shawn’s story is another testament to the danger those face who stand up to their abusers. Like I stated earlier, domestic violence victims are in more danger when they leave. This girl was stabbed from behind after leaving the car and going into her home. Shawn witnessed the danger this woman was in and stepped forward to protect her despite the danger. Not a whole lot of people have the courage do to this but Shawn showed us what makes our military members so unique. They are willing to give their lives to save the lives of others.
Shawn had put in for retirement in 2014 and was set to retire with over 20 years of active duty service. I wanted to take a moment to honor this man for his courage and fearlessness in this selfless act. He died to save the life of another. He also helped us see why domestic violence is a crime that we must take seriously as a society to prevent further tragedies like these. Shawn was a victim of domestic violence too. Show your support for domestic violence victims by letting them know you care during Domestic Violence Awareness month, and every month.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Myths & Facts about Domestic Violence
Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?
Private Violence: up to 75% of abused women who are murdered are killed after they leave their partners