SVC educates Incirlik VAs on victim rights

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Veronica Pierce
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Being a victim of sexual assault is a frightening experience that can leave a person feeling alone and helpless. All too often reports remain restricted because victims are unaware of the legal rights they have, and what services are offered.

39th ABW Victim Advocates received training from Capt. Maribel Jarzabek, Air Force Legal Operations Agency-Community Legal Services Victims, Aug. 15, 2014, here. Jarzabek is a special victims' counsel who represents victims in the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa region, as well as deployed locations in Southwest Asia.

Special victims' counselors are military lawyers for sexual assault victims. Their primary mission is to provide advocacy, provide advice and empower victims by removing barriers to their full participation in the military justice process.

Those eligible for SVC representation according to Air Force Instruction 51-504, include:

- All Air Force Active Duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard victims, who are in Title 10 status at the time of the offense.

-Adult dependents of active duty Air Force members.

-Unmarried dependents of active duty Air Force, ages of 18 to 20 years old.

In the past, adults could only be represented, but now they cover a broader spectrum, enabling children under the age of 18 years old to have this assistance.

"My goal for this visit is to conduct outreach to various groups on base so that more of our Airmen know about us and what we do," said Jarzabek. "We SVCs are seeing that not many of our Airmen know about the SVC program. We need to ensure that we are reaching and educating everyone about our new program that has now been in existence for the last one and a half years."

Over the past several years, the military justice system has worked to improve the legal rights of sexual assault victims. Many of these rights are new and unfamiliar throughout the military community.

However, these changes are mandated by federal law, the SVCs who are subject matter experts are available to ensure victims receive the proper legal representation.

"Many victims who go through this process don't know what their rights are, and how the investigation and court process works in the military justice system," said Jarzabek. "They are asked to make a lot of decisions throughout the process and they may not know what decision to make. We can assist with making decisions that are in their best interest by ensuring they are informed of all their options."

An SVC is available to give a victim of sexual assault legal advice weather the individual has filed an unrestricted or restricted report. They can also provide guidance before any report is made keeping legal advice and the situation confidential.

SVCs are available to any sexual assault victim before any report to Office of Special Investigations or Sexual Assault Response Coordinator has even been made, explained Jarzabek.

"Our VAs are the frontline of our office when it comes to victim care and it is extremely vital to keep them updated on the changes and guidance of the legal process," said Mamie Futrell, Incirlik AB Sexual Assault Prevention and Response specialist.

Since victim advocates are often the first person an individual seeks for help after being assaulted, this training will better assist VAs in educating victims on their rights.

"Having the knowledge shared by Jarzabek gives VAs the ability to appropriately educate victims on the process and refer them to an SVC for further guidance, said Futrell. "It is my hope that sometime in the near future there can be an SVC stationed at every base to ensure our victims of sexual assault are getting the optimal care and support they need and deserve."

If you are a victim of sexual assault in the USAFE-AFAFRICA region that would like SVC assistance please contact their office at Ramstein AB at DSN 314-478-4SVC (4782).