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NEWS | Dec. 7, 2023

Special Victims' Counsel Regional Training: Effective Army Component Integration

By Capt. Nancy Drapeza USAR Legal Command

Brig. Gen. Gerald R. Krimbill, commander of the U.S. Army Reserve Legal Command (USARLC), hosted the first Active Component (AC) / Reserve Component (RC) integrated Special Victims’ Counsel (SVC) regional training from Dec. 5-7, 2023. This refresher training provided new tools and best practices for all Army component SVCs to provide effective and meaningful representation of clients who have experienced sexual assault or domestic violence in the military. It included paralegals who play an important role by supporting SVCs and their clients. Krimbill personally expressed his support for those attending and others in the field currently serving as SVCs and SVC paralegals.

Col. Evah McGinley, Army SVC Program Manager, Office of The Judge Advocate General (OTJAG), and her AC team led the organization in this event in collaboration with the USARLC staff. It was truly a multi-component team effort. McGinley recently released an article in The Army Lawyer (2023, Issue 2) reflecting on the ten-year anniversary of the SVC Program. Titled “Azimuth Check: Ten Years In, Special Victims’ Counsel Practice in the Era of the Office of Special Trial Counsel,” the article reminds us that, upon its inception in 2013, SVC services were restricted to Active-duty Soldiers only, opening to Reserve component Soldiers in 2014. Afterwards, SVC services opened to DoD Civilians in 2017, and as of 2020, the scope of SVC services expanded to victims of domestic violence.

McGinley explained, as SVCs “assist clients who are enduring some of the most difficult days of their lives” (citing Policy Memorandum 22-13, The Judge Advocate General), this is “hands-on, meaningful practice available to few attorneys in the civilian sector and rarely with the level of resourcing and training provided to our Army counsel.”

Eleven years into the creation of the SVC Program, the 32 legal professionals gathered at USARLC which was chosen as a venue for its capacity to open the training to all Army components in the region. Both the venue and training emphasized the importance of comprehensive sexual assault and domestic violence education to ensure quality, accessible care for clients around the globe. Attendance included SVCs and paralegals from the AC, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard as well as Department of the Army Civilians. This year’s AC/RC regional training started with an update on SVC program developments and focused on enhancing the SVC practice skillset. It included informative training from Ms. Kristin Damigella, Director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Office of the Judge Advocate General (OTJAG) and wellness practice tips from Ms. Beth Pillsbury, LICSW, the new Army JAG Corps Wellness Program Director for OTJAG.

This training represents a commitment to sustain an annual AC / RC SVC synchronization, where AC and RC judge advocates can discuss updated trends and changes in the law, wellness practices tips, and individual experiences in the JAG Corps and civilian practices. Such AC / RC integration in SVC training is important as the Reserve Component is a critical force multiplier.

“Close coordination with the AC is crucial as victims may transition from AC to RC and vice-versa. There are also inherent differences between the AC and RC, so cross-training increases understanding of how each component functions both in general and with regard to SVC services,” said Maj. Timothy Baggett, USAR SVC Program Operations & Policy Chief.

SVC services are available for Army Soldiers in all components, their dependents, and Army Civilians. Those requesting to speak with an Army Reserve SVC may submit a request to or through any Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC/SHARP representative), Victim Advocate, Victim Witness Liaison (VWL), CID (or any MCIO) Investigator, Commander, Chaplain, or medical personnel. Upon receipt of a signed election form, the client is assigned an SVC who will verify eligibility in accordance with U.S.C. § 1044e for SVC representation in their case.

If you are an Army Reserve judge advocate or paralegal interested in representing or helping victims of sexual assault or domestic violence, please send us an email to for more information.