Continuing the Fight for Military Victims
September 09, 2016
Sexual assault and sexual harassment continue in the military. In fact, according to the FY15 Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military which was provided to Congress on May 5, 2016, the Military Services received 5,240 reports of sexual assault from Service member victims. Of these, 504 victims (approximately only 10%) made a report for incidents that occurred before they entered into Military Service. There were 4,584 Unrestricted Reports involving Service members as either victims or subjects; and of the initially restricted reports 401 later converted to Unrestricted Reports.
Among the key efforts put in place to respond to this violence is provision of legal counsel for victims of sexual assault. This work began in 2012 when the Air Force conceptualized its Special Victim Counsel program and held the first victims rights training in December 2012 with formal program launch in January 2013. Then on August 14, 2013 the Secretary of Defense directed each Service to implement a victim legal advocacy program no later than November 1st. Since the moment of inception in fall 2012 NCVLI has been working in close concert with the military to craft an effective legal assistance program. Among our key efforts is to train the military lawyers and legal personnel to better understand victims’ rights and the impacts of the system on victims.
Sometimes the trainings are at NCVLI’s Annual Conference other times we go on the road and bring the trainings to military personnel. This month alone NCVLI will be conducting two trainings:
- On September 12th NCVLI will be a part of the Army’s 4th Special Victim Counsel Child Course in Charlottesville, South Carolina, presenting on “Legal Updates in Representing Victims” and “Representing Children v. Representing Adults.”
- On September 22nd NCVLI will be part of the Navy’s weeklong Integrated Legal Services for Victims Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, which will bring together 250 joint service attorneys and paralegals who assist and counsel victims of crime. NCVLI will be presenting on the “Psychological Impact of Legal System’s Response to Survivors of Crimes” and “Working with Victims from an Attorney’s Perspective.”
NCVLI’s work for military victims does not stop at trainings, instead we participate in litigation of military victims’ rights through amicus curiae and legal technical assistance, and work on improving policy. In fact, later this fall NCVLI will provide input to the Department of Defense Federal Advisory Committee’s Judicial Proceedings Panel regarding proposed amendments to Articles 6b and 70 of the UCMJ.