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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 181-98
April 17, 1998

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE PARTICIPATES IN OBSERVANCE OF NATIONAL CRIME VICTIMS' RIGHTS WEEK

Throughout the week of April 19 through April 25, 1998, the Department of Defense will participate in the observance of National Crime Victims' Rights Week. During this week, all Americans will have the opportunity to reflect on victims' rights and services. Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen said: "I am honored to proclaim the week of April 19 through April 25, 1998, as the Department of Defense's Crime Victims' Rights Week. This week offers us an excellent opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of programs offering services for crime victims and to make sure that every victim receives dignity, compassion and respect in our military justice system."

Consistent with this year's theme -- "Victims' Rights: Right for America" -- this special commemoration provides the Department of Defense an opportunity to renew the Department's commitment to ensuring fair treatment and comprehensive services for victims of crime.

Although our nation's crime rate has experienced an historic drop, the devastating impact of crime is still felt by millions of Americans each year. Unfortunately, the military is not immune from this national problem. Crime and victimization are important concerns for our military communities. Just as in American society as a whole, the physical, financial, and psychological results of crime have devastating effects on the lives of service members and their families. When one member of any community is victimized, all share in the consequences.

Significant progress has been made during the past decade in the Department of Defense's efforts to assist crime victims. As Cohen said: "We can take great pride in the victim support programs we have initiated throughout the Department of Defense. While we have come far, we must renew our resolve and expand our efforts. Making our communities safe must remain a top priority."