Tyndall creates a safe space for tough questions

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Anabel Del Valle
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The Special Victims Council at Tyndall Air Force Base has recently started the Interpersonal Violence program, which provides a safe space for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.

The Interpersonal Violence program allows for Airmen to walk-in and seek information on the legal process of reporting an incident without launching an official investigation. The SVC office, located in the Mission Support Group building, Suite 210, is open for walk-ins from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays.

Airmen do not have to have a legal case open in order to get guidance using the Interpersonal Violence program, which is unique since legal advice from a SVC attorney was previously only available once an official report was made.

“A lot of times people may not report because they have a fear of the unknown and the military justice system is complex and full of legal jargon,” said Capt. Peter Simon, Headquarters Air Force SVC attorney. “We’re allowing a safe haven to voice legal concerns before creating an official report. Even during a walk-in conversation, everything remains confidential.”

The SVC is familiar with protecting Airmen, as their mission is to advocate for a victim’s rights once a judicial process begins. When a sexual assault or domestic violence report is made, the victim will be asked if they would like an SVC attorney to represent them. The SVC is different from other legal agencies such as the Airmen Defense Council, who represents the accused, rather than the victim.

“The SVC is so important to the judicial process because we ensure that our client’s rights and privacy is honored,” said Simon. “These investigations can often turn into a seemingly invasive process with many personal questions being asked. We step in to guarantee our clients are not subjected to unnecessary humiliation or reprisal.”

SVC attorneys do not report to leadership on the installation, allowing them to represent their clients without the influence of the chain of command. SVC offices around the Air Force work to ensure that Airmen feel supported and that their concerns are heard.

“The most rewarding part of this job is the firsthand experience of helping our clients,” said Staff Sgt. Mohammad Waziri, Headquarters Air Force SVC paralegal. “A lot of times victims feel helpless, weak, and lost. At the end, even if they didn’t get what they want, they know they had someone on their side to help them through the legal part of this tough experience.”