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Image of the Virginia State Seal

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

 

For media inquiries only, contact:  
Michael Kelly, Director of Communications
Phone: (804)786-5874 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

**Video of today's awards presentation is available here, including AG Herrings' remarks and each recipient getting their award.**

ROANOKE AREA VICTIMS' ADVOCATES HONORED BY ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING

~ Attorney General Herring presented Janine Underwood, Vicky Belcher, and Melissa Harper with inaugural Unsung Heroes Award during afternoon ceremony ~

RICHMOND (April 6, 2017) - This afternoon, Attorney General Mark R. Herring honored Janine Underwood, executive director of the Bradley Free Clinic, Melissa Harper, Forensic Nurse Examiner at Carilion Clinic, and Vicky Belcher, director of the Martinsville Victim Witness Program with the inaugural Unsung Heroes Award for their dedication and excellence in victims' services. During National Crime Victims' Rights Week, Attorney General Herring held the ceremony to recognize men and women across the Commonwealth who are dedicated to serving victims and fighting for their rights.

 

"When a Virginian seeks justice, safety, and support following a crime, men and women from across Virginia are there waiting with open arms and hearts, but far too often their tireless efforts goes unacknowledged," said Attorney General Herring. "I am proud to honor Janine, Vicky, Melissa, and Virginians like them with the inaugural Unsung Heroes award, and am glad to have had the opportunity to express our thanks for their important work."

 

Below is a biography of each recipient from the Roanoke area:

Janine Underwood (Roanoke)
Executive Director, Bradley Free Clinic

Ms. Underwood has been the Executive Director of the Bradley Free Clinic since 2014.  The clinic provides medical, dental, and pharmacy services to the working uninsured and their families in Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Salem, Botetourt, and Vinton.  Ms. Underwood recently has added serving victims of the heroin and prescription drug epidemic to her to-do list.  Due to a heroin overdose, Janine recently lost her son Bobby to the disease of addiction.  Each day she passionately serves those in need by providing a safe place for folks who have nowhere to turn.  She goes further to raise public awareness on the dangers of addiction through speaking engagements at community forums, exhibits, lectures, and various meetings.  Through her grief, she has maintained her ability to help others with a compassionate and caring spirit.  

 

Vicky Belcher (Martinsville)
Director, Martinsville Victim Witness Program

Vicky Belcher has been the Victim Witness Director for Martinsville Victim Witness for over eighteen years.  She has developed a reputation as a skilled and creative advocate, which is why she was asked to be part of the response teams for the Virginia Tech, Appomattox, and New River Valley Community College shootings.  Ms. Belcher also led the charge to assist numerous victims of an arson who lived in a Martinsville facility geared toward individuals with special needs, all while maintaining a full caseload.

 

Melissa Harper (Roanoke)
Forensic Nurse Examiner, Carilion Clinic, Roanoke Memorial Hospitals

Always available to help educate and advocate, Melissa Harper is your "go-to" person.  In her profession, Melissa routinely encounters difficult situations and cases, but manages to maintain care and compassion for those with whom she works.  Aside from her daily responsibilities as Nurse Examiner, Melissa strives to educate her community, as well as her colleagues, on victims' issues.  Melissa is a highly respected member of both her profession and her community.  She has been a Registered Nurse since 1990, working as both an emergency and forensic nurse. She is currently employed as a full-time Forensic Nurse Examiner with the Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, VA and has previously served as faculty for the nursing and paramedic programs at the Jefferson College of Health Sciences. She holds an MSN degree with an advanced practice Clinical Nurse Specialist focus in forensic nursing from the University of Colorado.  She is certified as both a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Adult/Adolescent (SANE-A) and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Pediatric (SANE-P). She is a founding member of the Carilion Clinic Forensic Nurse Examiner Program in Roanoke, Virginia, as well a founding member of the Nursing Honor Society of the Roanoke Valley.  She was appointed to serve on the Commonwealth of Virginia's Domestic Violence Prevention and Response Advisory Board in 2011 under Governor Robert McDonnell and on Governor Terry McAuliffe's Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence in 2015. She currently serves on the Roanoke Valley Domestic Violence Task Force and the Roanoke Regional Family and Intimate Partner Violence Fatality Review team. She was honored by the March of Dimes in 2012 as Virginia Nurse of the Year in the "Emergency" category for her work as a forensic nurse.

 

 

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