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SVC offers victims a voice

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Maria Umanzor Guzman
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Every victim of sexual assault has their own story and going through severe levels of distress and trauma is just one of the many effects it may have on a victim’s life.

Service members needing direct support and guidance can turn to the Air Force Special Victims’ Counsel which has been instituted to provide legal care and support.

The SVC is a program implemented at the installation to assist victims of certain offenses, specifically sexual assault and domestic violence, to obtain victim-centered legal representation through the military justice process.

“Going through the military justice process, we assist victims under the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” said Capt. Nathan Kinghorn, 19th Airlift Wing special victims’ counselor. “The UCMJ gives victims certain rights throughout the whole process which can allow us to advocate on their behalf during court marshals. This, along with other evidentiary rules, are in place to protect the victim’s privacy.”

Kinghorn explains that the SVC is particularly beneficial to Airmen who are victims of these crimes as they inform them about the challenges they will confront during the justice process and provide advice on how they can overcome these obstacles.

“We are the megaphone that amplifies their voice,” said Tech. Sgt. Chandlyre Raygoza, 19th AW SVC paralegal. “While they are the driver of their decisions in their process, we are the passenger giving them directions and making sure they’re informed when it comes to each step of the process.”

One of SVC’s primary goals is to ensure people on base know that they are here and available to them when needed.

Kinghorn explained that the SVC is typically introduced to all incoming personnel through the newcomer’s orientation, and they meet with first sergeants from different squadrons. They are always looking for additional ways to ensure that people on base know who they are and their purpose.

“We are a resource for them,” said Kinghorn. “If they choose to retain us, they are allowing a victim’s counsel to adequately express their interests to whoever it is they need to. Whether it is a military judge, installation or squadron commander.”

All common access cardholders are eligible and military dependents are eligible to request assistance from the SVC.

Raygoza emphasized the importance of confidentiality they provide between a victim’s counselor and a client in a case.

“Whatever a client tells us, with [exception to] very limited circumstances, does not come out without their permission,” said Raygoza. “We are able to analyze and give them advice without having to tell somebody they spoke with us.”

Raygoza added that due to the SVC’s chain of command being independent from every base chain of command, the client’s military career is not affected, such as officer and enlisted performance reports.

Clients have the option to make a restricted, unrestricted or independent sexual assault report.

The SVC works with other base agencies as well such as the Sexual Assault Response Coordinators, Family Advocacy Program members, Victim Witness Assistance Program advocates, base chaplains and the legal office to give victims the proper care physically, mentally and legally for their road to recovery.

For more information or to get in touch with local SVC, call (501) 987-2412/7229.