RICHMOND, Va. -- Across Central Virginia, a wave of violence has left many lives upended. For many, the life-altering changes can take years for people to return to a sense of normalcy.
A Virginia program that has been around for decades is helping to lighten the financial load for victims and their families to make the return to normal easier.
"We recognize the impact that crime has on individuals and society. As crime progresses, we are concerned for the communities out there," Kassandra Bullock with the Virginia Victim's Fund said.
Bullock works directly with those impacted by violence. She knows how it can instantly turn their lives upside down.
As the director of the Virginia Victim's Fund, she helps to provide services to crime victims, their families and advocates. They cover claims that help with funeral expenses, physician and hospital bills, lost wages and domestic loss of support.
"Individuals who are direct relatives, children or grandchildren are eligible for compensation to file an application for consideration. The maximum cap of a claim is $35,000. The max for a funeral is $10,000," Bullock said.
For crime victims to be eligible for compensation, the following requirements must be met:
- The crime must occur in Virginia or against a Virginia resident in a state, territory or country that doesn't have a compensation program
- The crime must be reported to the police within 120 hours unless good cause for the delay can be shown
- A claim must be filed with the VVF within one year of the crime
Bullock added that the individuals can't be involved in criminal activity at the time of the crime and must cooperate with law enforcement and prosecution efforts.
She said the VVF is funded by court fines and restitution and that no taxpayer dollars are used. The organization also has a restitution recovery team and an ombudsman who walks families through the process from beginning to end.
"Many times they are very pleased because they either were waiting on those funds or it helps close out a chapter in their life," Bullock said.
In 2021, the VVF received more than 1,500 claims and approved more than 1,200 of those, totaling $5.4 million paid out to victims and their families.
Families who are seeking financial assistance through the fund can call (800) 552-4007. You can also visit the program's website here.