WASHINGTON (NNS) -- More than 170 attorneys and support staff from across the services gathered for training at the Integrated Legal Services for Victims (ILSV) Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, Sept. 20-23.
The conference was designed to improve the ability to provide comprehensive legal assistance to victims through an integrated, interdisciplinary approach. Judge Advocate General of the Navy Vice Adm. James W. Crawford III provided opening remarks and emphasized the importance of the different programs and the good work being done to support victims of sexual assault.
“Support for victims of sexual assault is community activism,” said Crawford. “There are four specific expectations for providing legal services to victims of sexual assault: awareness, integration, speed and diligence.”
Attendees included service members and civilians from the Navy, Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and National Guard who work to support service members around the world. A major goal of the conference was to integrate the Victim’s Legal Counsel (VLC) (a.k.a. Special Victims Counsel (SVC) in other Services, Disability Evaluation System (DES), and Legal Assistance (LA) attorneys to improve the DON’s ability to provide comprehensive legal assistance to victims of sexual assault/crime. Presenters and attendees from all practices areas participated, including prosecutors, defense attorneys, and staff judge advocates. “
We couldn't have organized an event like this without funding,” said Capt. Patrick J. Gibbons, director, Legal Assistance Division, Office of the Judge Advocate General. “We're grateful to Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office for providing the resources to pull together the attorneys and paralegals, uniformed and civilian, from all five Services, to improve our support to crime victims.”
U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Brad Brecher, Victims' Legal Counsel, Legal Services Support Section - National Capital Region, served as a small group discussion leader during the conference.
“The ILSV provided an excellent, joint training environment in which various entities involved in providing legal services to victims could learn from one another and communicate with each other about ideas to improve the overall quality of victims' legal services,” said Brecher.
"It was incredibly valuable to come together to see how different services do different things with the same statute,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Matt Blythe, Special Victims' Legal Counsel. “We have a lot to learn from each other and I realized just because we keep doing something, it's not always the best way.”
Preeminent civilian and military experts in victim-support related fields provided training on a number of cutting-edge victim impact and recovery matters, including the psychological impact of the legal system on survivors of sexual offenses and other crimes. Additional keynote speakers throughout the conference included Meg Garvin, M.A., J.D., the executive director of the National Crime Victim Law Institute and a clinical professor of law at Lewis & Clark Law School, Valenda Applegarth, a Senior Staff Attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services in Boston, Massachusetts and founder of the nation’s first Relocation Counseling Project, Dr. Amy Hartley, a clinical psychologist at Naval Hospital Jacksonville and Mary Jo Speaker, a victim-witness specialist attorney at the Department of Justice.