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Special Victims' Counsel expands services

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Isaac Nicholson
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Shaw Air Force Base’s Special Victims’ Counsel has implemented a pilot program to expand their services, which began Aug. 1, 2021.

This program was created with the purpose of providing legal assistance and counsel to victims of interpersonal violence before taking on the extensive process that comes with mandatory reporting.

IPV is defined as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against a person or group that results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation. This includes sexual assault, dating violence, family violence and workplace violence.
“This program provides victims of crimes an opportunity to consult with us first on a confidential basis before reporting to a mandatory reporter,” says Capt. Erik Bohm, 20th Fighter Wing special victims’ counsel officer in charge. “Sometimes individuals that are reporting don’t fully understand their legal rights. They don’t fully understand what the legal process is before they report. Now they can make an educated, informed decision on how they want to move forward.”

The Air Force recognizes Air Force active duty members and reserve component members on Title 10 orders, who are victims, as eligible for legal assistance. The Special Victims’ Counsel will offer confidential assistance to others that qualify for military legal assistance services on a space available basis.

The initial phase of this program will remain in effect until Nov. 30, 2021. After that date, the SVC will determine the future of this program.

“If we collect solid data points then I think there is strong potential that this continues to move forward as is, just like every other program that we have been involved with,” said Bohm. “It will evolve over time, but this is really something that we think has a lot of potential to benefit victims of crime.”

If you believe or even question that you are the victim of IPV and are interested in speaking with the Special Victims’ Counsel regarding your rights, please contact the Special Victims’ Counsel at 240-374-9755. The Special Victims’ Counsel office is also offering walk-in consultations from 9-11 a.m. on Tuesdays and 2-4 p.m. on Thursdays.

“I want victims of IPV to know that they are not alone and that they have resources, including this pilot program, that can help guide them through this type of situation,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Mills, 20th Fighter Wing special victims’ counsel paralegal.