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NEWS | Feb. 23, 2015

Special Victims' Counsel, here to help

By Capt. James Krauer Special Victims Council

Hello Joint Base Charleston!  My name is Capt. James Krauer and I am JB Charleston's Air Force Special Victims' Counsel.  Since this is a new program on base, I wanted to take this opportunity tell you about the program and your SVC team.

Implemented in 2013, the AF SVC program allows victims of sexual assault to have their own attorney who can be their voice and legal counselor throughout the process. The purpose of the program is for SVCs to advocate on their client's behalf, advise their client throughout the investigatory and military justice process, and empower clients by removing barriers and giving them a voice.  These services allow a more robust opportunity for victims to be heard, to retain and take advantage of their rights, and enhance the military justice system while neither causing unreasonable delay, nor infringing upon the rights of an accused. 

Air Force SVCs are attorneys in the Judge Advocate General's Corps that have been competitively selected to serve in this capacity.  They are provided at no cost to the victim and communications between the attorney and client are confidential.  Moreover, SVCs work solely for their clients and have an independent chain of command, so they may zealously advocate on their clients' behalf. 

The SVCs' scope of representation is not limited to military preliminary hearings and courts-martial.  They can attend client interviews with law enforcement and trial and defense counsel.  Additionally, SVCs can communicate with the command to address unit issues and some collateral misconduct.  Lastly, SVCs are able to answer questions victims may have regarding available services, protective orders from military or civilian authorities, and the difference between restricted and unrestricted reporting. 

The JB Charleston SVC office is a regional office that falls under the Joint Base Andrews region.  At the regional office is the Senior Special Victims' Counsel and the Special Victims' Paralegals. The SSVC supervises the attorneys and paralegals in the region.  The SVP works with SVCs in the region to provide outstanding service for their clients.

Staff Sgt. Timothy Peifer is the SVP and stationed at JB Andrews, Md.  The SVPs are vital SVC team members.  They determine victim eligibility for SVC services.  They also assist in drafting notices, communicating with clients, and facilitating referrals to other available resources such as the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator or the Family Advocacy Program.  Lastly, SVPs are a great resource when SVCs may be temporarily unavailable due to judicial proceedings or travel.

The SVCs are available for eligible victims who have made a restricted or unrestricted report.  Active-duty members are eligible, while Reserve and Guard members, retirees, and military dependents, including children, may also receive SVC services under certain circumstances.  If you have questions about eligibility, please contact Sergeant Peifer or myself. 

Now that you know a little more about the SVC Program, I want to introduce Sergeant Peifer and myself.  I am originally from Nebraska and joined the Air Force JAG Corps after law school. I was stationed at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., where I served in a variety of roles, including the chief of Military Justice.  I am very excited to serve as an SVC and be responsible for this office.  I look forward to working with the JB Charleston community and advocating on behalf of my clients.

Sergeant Peifer brings a wealth of experience to the SVC Program.  He was selected for the SVP position after a rigorous selection process.  He grew up in New York and joined the Air Force in 2002.  He originally came in as security forces, and was first stationed at Kirkland Air Force Base, N.M.  Sergeant Peifer retrained into the paralegal career field in 2006 and as a paralegal; he has been the NCOIC of Military Justice, Adverse Actions, and Civil Law.  He also deployed to Iraq in support of Task Force 134.  Sergeant Peifer is appreciative for the opportunity to serve as an SVP and is greatly looking forward to providing outstanding support to the JB Charleston SVC office and the community that we service. 

For more information, please contact Sergeant Peifer at JB Andrews at (240) 612-4672 or myself (843) 963-7031. You can also visit the SVC office located on the Air Base at 205 S. Davis Street, Bldg. 246, Rm. 108.