TERESA SCALZO, ESQ., NAVY PROSECUTION EXPERT: Thirty years ago, there were not many services for victims.
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: Our concern for crime victims rests on far more than simple recognition that it could happen to any of us. All of us have an interest in seeing that justice is done, not only to the criminal but also for those who suffer the consequences of his crime.
NAN STOOPS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WA STATE COALITION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: The first services that sprang forth as a result of the Victims of Crime Act [VOCA] really elevated the needs that victims have beyond a criminal, legal response.
HERMAN MILLHOLLAND, FORMER STATE VOCA ADMINISTRATOR: VOCA changed the way we were able to provide services for crime victims. It created that funding stream for programs that didn't exist prior to that.
TERESA SCALZO: VOCA was a watershed moment for victims because for the first time we recognized that victims really had a place in the process and that protecting their rights mattered.
NAN STOOPS: I have a lot of pride, actually, in the evolution of the field and its understanding of who it is we're here to serve. When we look at racial disparities with respect to crime and the unique challenges that are faced by immigrants, LGBTQ people who are victims of crime, in order to meet victims where they are, provide what they need, we need to be able to adapt and to modify.
TERESA SCALZO: In the 10 years that I have been training the military, I have seen great strides made in protecting victim rights. The Navy just stood up our Victim Legal Counsel Program, and it's from this point forward, all of our victims of sexual assault will be entitled to their own attorney, which is just cutting edge and very, very exciting. That person will stay with them until the legal issues are resolved, so they will be their lawyer until the case is closed. By giving them somebody to fight just for them—only for their interests— you allow them the ability to be heard.
NAN STOOPS: The idea is to bring people together to really find where are points of connection? And where can we join?
HERMAN MILLHOLLAND: We see crimes in a very different way today. Over the years, as the times have changed, the crimes are changing. There were no identity theft crimes, issues like human trafficking. We are now seeing mass violence and terrorism.
SANDY PHILLIPS, VICTIM ADVOCATE: Unfortunately, our ranks of victims and survivors are growing every day. My daughter, Jessie, she was just in a theater watching a movie. Those Sandy Hook kids were just in their kindergarten or first grade classes. Sikh temple—they just went to church. Tucson—they just went to the store. This can happen anywhere, anytime, to anyone.
HERMAN MILLHOLLAND: These are events that, under normal circumstances, I don't think any community is prepared to respond to. One of the things that we're doing now is creating a resource guide for communities around the country to use of all of the things that need to take place in order to prepare for an event, should it happen.
SANDY PHILLIPS: It's never, ever going to be easy for any of us, but having somebody else out there that understands does help.
HERMAN MILLHOLLAND: Trauma, as we know it, doesn't just start and stop. It's a very long process, and VOCA allows an individual over time to continue receive the necessary support and services and funding to help them.
SANDY PHILLIPS: Victims are often so shocked by what's happened to them that they don't know where to turn. So when someone does reach out to them and say, "We're here for you," that is incredibly helpful.
TERESA SCALZO: What VOCA has done is to restore that balance, to give the victim a place at the table.
NAN STOOPS: The field is really expanding its thinking about what constitutes justice and our deep commitment to providing what it is that people need.
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: Our laws represent the collective moral voice of a free society. Those principles will lose their meaning and our citizens will lose faith in them if we concentrate solely on punishing criminals and ignore the suffering of victims of crime.