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2021 Report to the Nation

Fiscal Years 2019 - 2020

Antiterrorism Emergency Reserve

Following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Congress amended VOCA to authorize OVC to allocate up to $50 million per year from the Crime Victims Fund to establish the Antiterrorism Emergency Reserve (Reserve). The Reserve provides help primarily through funding for immediate and direct services for victims of terrorism and criminal mass violence within the United States and abroad, supplemental funding provided directly to affected communities, and TTA services. In FYs 2019 and 2020, Reserve support for victims totaled $26.8 million and $25.46 million, respectively.

OVC collaborates with federal, state, local, and international partners to ensure that victims and survivors of domestic mass violence and domestic and international terrorism incidents receive support to begin the healing process—physically, emotionally, and financially.

The OVC Director may replenish the Emergency Reserve by setting aside up to 5 percent of the amount remaining in the Crime Victims Fund in any fiscal year after the VOCA allocations have been awarded for that year. The Reserve funds emergency expenses and other services for victims of terrorism and mass violence within the United States and abroad by supporting the following programs:

  • The Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program (AEAP);
  • The International Terrorism Victim Expense Reimbursement Program (ITVERP);
  • The Executive Office of United States Attorney’s support of mass violence and terrorism victims attending trials and sentencing;
  • The FBI Office for Victim Assistance Crime Victim Assistance Emergency Fund;
  • The National Security Division, Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism’s Criminal Justice Participation Assistance Fund and personnel;
  • The Office of Military Commissions’ closed-circuit television viewing sites for victims and families; and
  • Special Masters reimbursement in certain terrorism-related federal civil lawsuits.

OVC Supports Victims of Domestic Terrorism and Mass Violence

AEAP is one of the principal tools OVC uses to provide supplemental financial assistance to local communities in the wake of tragedy. These grants are methodically developed to ensure that allowable expenses are reimbursed and communities and victims are supported for several years as they recover, rebuild, and adjust to a dramatically changed way of life following domestic terrorism and mass violence incidents. Funded activities may include supplemental crime victim compensation; emergency relief, including crisis response efforts; and both immediate and ongoing assistance, including victim participation in the judicial process.

During the reporting period, OVC supported the following communities in their efforts to recover from incidents of mass violence and terrorism in the United States:

  • OVC awarded $2,878,767 to the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice to assist victims of the May 7, 2019, shooting at STEM School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Program funds will reimburse organizations for necessary victim services and ongoing healing and resiliency services for victims. Services include meetings with a national school crisis and bereavement expert; STEM School Resiliency Center expenses, including mental health services and training for clinicians and a resiliency coordinator; supplemental victim compensation expenses; victim security at court proceedings; and mental health services for first responders.
  • In FY 2020, OVC awarded $9,801,224 to the Florida Department of Legal Affairs’ Division of Victim Services and Criminal Justice Programs to reimburse agencies that delivered immediate services following the February 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that resulted in the deaths of 14 students and 3 staff members and wounded 17 others. Funds will also help provide ongoing trauma-informed, evidence-based healing and resiliency services for the students, families, employees, and first responders who survived the shooting.
  • In FY 2020, OVC awarded $3,863,606 to assist victims of the 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that directly impacted 31 people who were in the building at the time of the shooting and adversely affected hundreds more, including family members and first responders. The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s Office of Victims’ Services will use the funding for costs related to a Resiliency Center, behavioral health services, case management, crime scene cleanup, first responder counseling and training programs, specialized trauma training for mental health providers, outreach to victims, a website for victims, and a digital repository of commemorative materials that victims can access as part of their healing journey.
  • OVC awarded $408,599 to the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet to help the Marshall County Board of Education and the Marshall County Public Library meet victims’ needs in the aftermath of the January 23, 2018, shooting at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky. During the incident, 2 students were killed and 14 more were injured. Another 4 students were injured in the aftermath of the shooting, and an estimated 250 students were eyewitnesses who were directly threatened. Funding is being used for crime scene cleanup, staff to support homebound schooling for students who are unable to return to the classroom, archiving and digitizing items related to the incident, and the Community Table Project to help victims heal.
  • OVC awarded $183,717 to assist victims of the November 5, 2017 shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. This grant reimbursed victim assistance costs incurred by the Bexar County Medical Examiner's Office, and will fund services provided by the Children's Bereavement Center of South Texas, and the Ecumenical Center, which has been providing crisis response and support services to victims as they continue to heal and cope with re-traumatization.

OVC Assists Victims of Terrorism Abroad

OVC’s International Terrorism Victim Expense Reimbursement Program (ITVERP) provides financial reimbursement for qualifying expenses to qualified U.S. citizens and U.S. government employees who have suffered direct physical or emotional injury from an act of international terrorism while outside the United States. The program reimburses victims and families for expenses associated with their victimization, such as out-of-pocket funeral and burial expenses; medical bills; mental health and crisis counseling; property loss, repair, and replacement; and miscellaneous costs, such as temporary housing, local transportation, phone calls, and emergency travel. Support for international victims can also extend to funding emergency medevac or other essential victim services, including participation in foreign trials, in coordination with DOJ components and other federal agencies. In FY 2020, OVC funded 33 applicants, totaling $169,869.

OVC Releases ITVERP Online Application and Claims Tracking Portal

In FY 2019, OVC released a new online application and claims tracking portal. For the first time, eligible claimants were able file their ITVERP applications online and track the progress of their claims throughout the life cycle of their claim. Paper applications will continue to be available for those who prefer them. Case managers are also available to assist with the online or paper applications.

OVC Supports Emergency Assistance for Terrorism Victims

As part of a DOJ-wide response to victims of terrorist acts within the United States and abroad, OVC provides funding to the Crime Victim Assistance Emergency Fund, administered by the FBI’s Victim Services Division. With this funding, the FBI supports services for victims and their families, including emergency food, clothing, shelter, and temporary housing; emergency transportation for medical care and travel assistance to reunite family members with injured survivors unable to travel; repatriation of the remains of a deceased victim; transportation expenses of secondary victims; crisis counseling; and child and dependent care. Additionally, OVC sets aside money each year through the Federal Crime Victims Assistance Fund to support direct services that U.S. Attorneys’ Offices request for victims of federal crimes. This fund pays for emergency shelter, emergency childcare, crisis counseling, transportation to court, and other critical direct services when local services are unavailable.

OVC Supports Federal Agencies With Mass Violence and Terrorism Responses

OVC supports the immediate and direct response to crime victims in the wake of tragedy by directing resources to DOJ’s direct service providers: the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OVT) ($125,000) and the EOUSA ($404,556). This enables OVC’s federal partners to quickly deploy staff and resources to support local victim service personnel and provide other support to victims. In FY 2020, OVC also provided $525,000 to OVT to fund a program manager to enhance OVT’s ability to provide timely assistance to American victims in pending foreign prosecutions, and to more effectively advocate for their rights by managing a variety of OVT’s most successful programs. This includes the Criminal Justice Participation Assistance Fund and OVT’s role in the ITVERP process.

OVC Reimburses Special Masters Claims

The courts of the United States may appoint Special Masters to hear damage claims brought under the terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. In FY 2019, OVC reimbursed Special Masters Deborah Greenspan and Alan Balaran a total of $160,685 for expenses incurred in the cases Cohen v. Islamic Republic of Iran and Fritz v. Islamic Republic of Iran. In FY 2020, OVC reimbursed multiple Special Masters a total of $172,662 for expenses incurred in multiple cases, including Bathiard v. Islamic Republic of Iran and Sheikh v. Republic of Sudan.