By Cmdr. Jeffrey W. McCray, Victims’ Legal Counsel, Naval Air Station Oceana
The first group of Navy Victims’ Legal Counsel (VLC) attended the Air Force’s Special Victims’ Counsel Course at the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s School, at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., Oct. 15-18.
Throughout the week students received training in effective victim interaction, policies and procedures related to victim legal support, and practical advocacy of victim rights and interests.
I am very excited about this opportunity. I volunteered for this position because it is an entirely new area of law. We get to blaze the trail, help make new law, and really make a difference in the lives of our clients, all in one assignment.
Vice Adm. Nanette M. DeRenzi, Judge Advocate General of the Navy, visited the Navy VLCs during the training. “The Navy is committed to protecting the rights and interests of victims of sexual assault and ensuring the administration of a fair, transparent and efficient military justice system that guarantees due process for the accused and promotes good order and discipline,” said DeRenzi.
The Navy established the VLC Program to provide additional support and legal counsel to victims of sexual assault. Navy Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) counselors have years of experience in counseling, but are not as familiar with the Navy’s legal and military justice systems. That’s where VLCs come into play – we attend hearings and trials with our clients, explain the proceedings and options, and help our clients provide meaningful input to the legal process.
VLCs will be assigned world-wide to assist victims of sexual assault. VLCs serve neither a prosecution nor defense role but serve victims, to protect and promote victim rights and interests.
Initially, the Navy VLC Program will consist of 29 specially-trained, independent judge advocates assigned regionally to maximize availability of counsel across the Fleet.