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CONTACT: Linda J. Cimino
Director of Office of Victim Services


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USA FlagOffice 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 ended."

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 spoken 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 information."

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 (out-of-state).

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 Board.

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., Plainville.


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