Special Victims' Counsel

by Airman 1st Class Juan Torres, 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Stripes Korea

Yokota Air Base, Japan -- The U.S. Air Force established the Special Victim’s Counsel to help combat sexual assault and give victims a voice in the military justice system.

Their purpose is to provide advice, advocacy, and empower victims of sexual assault through independent legal representation.

“We are our client’s middleman,” said Staff Sgt. Karen Hamlett, Air Force Legal Operations Agency Special Victim’s paralegal. “We are the voice of our clients. We talk to the investigators or any other agencies involved in the legal process.”

The SVC's primary goal is to help victims through the legal process, explaining, assisting and supporting throughout. They exist to protect the rights and privacy of victims of sexual assault in any way that they can.

The SVC is one of the resources members can use for legal advice and independent legal representation. They will work directly with Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and other supporting agencies to provide advice, assistance, and advocacy throughout the military justice process.

“Just like other programs, we help victims move forward from the incident,” said Hamlett.

Every survivor is unique. They have several options during the recovery process. The SVC can assist them in determining what options they have and what decisions would be in the best interests for their recovery.

The SVC helps victims of sexual assault by:

- Representing the client and the client alone

- Providing confidential legal advice

- Representing both restricted and unrestricted reports

- Protecting the client’s rights and privacy interests

- Providing legal assistance

- Advising on the investigation and prosecution

- Attending interviews with the client

- Attending hearings and courts-martial

In addition to SVC services, victims of sexual assault can receive help from other agencies and offices, to include: counseling services from Mental Health, support from a victim advocate or SARC, privileged discussions with chaplains, and other resources provided in the local area.

“We are here to listen,” added Hamlett. “We are open to anyone who wants to talk to us and needs help.”

If you have any questions as to the availability of services, contact the SVC office at: 225-8880.

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