Once an investigation is initiated, a Victim/Witness Assistance Program (VWAP) Provider is available to assist sexual assault victims with exercising their federally mandated rights and with navigating the criminal justice system. VWAPs also provide information on services and resources, and they interact with lawyers and commanders. VWAPs help ensure the victim's situation is respected, that victims have a voice in the process and that victims are kept informed of the status of the investigation and prosecution.
DoD Victim and Witness Definitions
The DoD uses the following definitions for "victim" and "witness," but more information may be available through your installation's Victim/Witness Assistance Program, which is usually located in the installation legal office (Judge Advocate).
A victim is a person who has suffered direct physical, emotional, or financial harm as a result of a crime committed in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Victims of crime in other jurisdictions are also included if any portion of the investigation is conducted primarily by an agency in the DoD. Such individuals include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Military members and their family members
- DoD civilian employees, contractors and their family members (when stationed outside the continental United States). However, in stateside locations this group is not eligible for some services, such as medical care in military medical facilities.
- Children or people needing representation. When a victim is under 18 years of age, incompetent, incapacitated or deceased, the term "victim" includes one of the following (in order of precedence): a spouse, legal guardian, parent, child, sibling, another family member or another person designated by a court or legal authority.
A witness is a person who provides information or evidence about a criminal offense within the investigative responsibility of the DoD. When the witness is a minor, the term "witness" includes a minor's family member or legal guardian. The term does not include a defense witness or an individual involved in the crime as a perpetrator or accomplice.
To locate your Victim/Witness Assistance Provider, you should contact your local installation's office of the Staff Judge Advocate or Judge Advocate General.
For additional information or to find Victim/Witness Assistance points of contact: