Office of Victim Services
Responds to Victims of Terrorist Attacks
In the month after terrorists
attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the Judicial Branch's Office
of Victim Services is continuing to work with Connecticut's victims, many
of whom are children who can't bring themselves to believe a parent is
gone, according to OVS Director Linda J. Cimino.
"The impact is profound
on children," Cimino said today. "The security of their world
As Connecticut's lead agency
dedicated to assisting victims of crime, OVS has been contacted by several
people seeking information about counseling and financial compensation. To
date, OVS staff members have spoken directly to 37 families and have
received 47 calls from victims. The OVS also has received 26 telephone
calls from people seeking general information.
"OVS staff have
to families around Connecticut who are victims of this horrible
tragedy," Cimino said. "Their stories of grief and loss are very
profound. The impact of the events of September 11 will be felt in
Connecticut for years to come."
Cimino recalled a conversation
with one woman.
"I was so affected by how
young she sounded,'' Cimino said. "We were talking on a cell phone as
she was going out to make funeral arrangements ... her children are young.
She was very numb and not knowing where to turn for help."
Cimino added: "It's
really common for all victims of crime, but we've seen it specifically
here -- that they'll ask for our names five, 10 times during a
conversation, because they just don't have the ability to hold this
Thousands were killed when
hijackers crashed planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon; others
died when a hijacked plane crashed in Pennsylvania. Affected Connecticut
families are from several towns, and to date, OVS has gleaned that 114 of
those killed or missing had ties to Connecticut.
OVS officials reacted
immediately after the attacks to respond to requests for help, Chief Court
Administrator Joseph H. Pellegrino said.
"It is important to
remember that those affected by these attacks are crime victims,"
Judge Pellegrino said. "As such, they are eligible for whatever help
our Office of Victim Services can provide to them, which OVS has been
doing. The Judicial Branch would urge anyone else who needs or wants
assistance to call for help."
The Office of Victim Services
may be reached at 1-800-822-8428 (in-state) or at 860-747-6070
Calls so far have run the
spectrum, and some people still hold onto hope that their loved ones are
alive, Cimino said. Others want to connect with people who are undergoing
similar losses, she said.
The OVS contracts with a
network of qualified counselors throughout Connecticut, who are
available to provide initial counseling free of charge. OVS staff members
may refer families mourning the death of a loved one to counseling
services and support groups. Such services also may be available to those
who were injured or who witnessed the attacks.
In addition, financial
assistance may be available for out-of-pocket medical expenses, funeral or
memorial service costs, mental health counseling, loss of
earnings/support, and essential personal property.
"Financial issues are
huge for many of these families," Cimino said.
So far, OVS has processed
compensation files for 13 victims representing a combined total of 34
family members. New York State, meanwhile, has processed files for six
victims representing a combined total of 18 family members. Five emergency
awards have been issued; two more are in progress.
Family members of people who
were on American Airlines Flight 11 or United Airlines Flight 175 may be
eligible for financial compensation through the Massachusetts Crime Victim
Compensation Board. And for Connecticut residents injured, missing, or
presumed dead from the attack at the World Trade Center, financial
compensation may be available through the New York State Crime Victims
OVS staff members are
available to assist affected Connecticut residents with the completion of
the New York financial claim forms, or the Massachusetts financial
compensation forms and applications.
The agency is at 31 Cooke St.,