NamUs creates division to aid victims’ families

September 13, 2019

By Jan Jarvis

Missing Web

When a loved one goes missing, families face unimaginable challenges, from coping with the disappearance to finding the person is deceased and then navigating the complex process of bringing them home.

To help families navigate the trauma related to a loved one’s disappearance, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, has created a Victim’s Services Division.

Mental health support, peer-to-peer networking and reunification are among the services available to families, said Tiffany Mow, Director of the Victim Services Division.

NamUs is managed within the UNT Center for Human Identification through a cooperative agreement with the National Institute of Justice. It has been used to resolve over 18,000 missing-person cases and almost 4,000 cases of unidentified decedents across the country.

Reunification involves supporting families who need help bringing a deceased loved one home.

“The purpose of this program is to reunite missing persons with their loved ones, regardless of the circumstances of their passing,” Mow said. “Our program is unique in that the person does not have to be a victim of a crime but could instead be a transient or someone who passed away naturally.”

The program assists family members with the cost of returning the individual home. Once the person has been identified, it covers the costs of exhuming the body, cremation and transportation. Funds are available to pay a portion of the cost of transferring someone home, Mow said.

The NamUs Victim Services Program Coordinators will also assist families in finding mental health providers for trauma-informed therapies and support groups.

A peer support network is also being created to link families with others facing a similar tragedy. The program is currently identifying volunteers to serve as peers throughout the country, Mow said. Volunteers will be provided with training and support in their role as peers.

“Peers are individuals who have gone through their own recovery and have a lot of knowledge to share with someone,” she said.

The peer support group is a way to reach out to help others through a difficult time.

“It’s more than just having someone to talk to,” Mow said, “It’s helping the person with navigating the system and working with law enforcement.”

Peers will provide support either over the telephone or in person.

“The focus is on the families and working with them to get them the help and support they need,” Mow said.

 

July 4th Covid 19 Fc
Navigating through July 4th and the summer of COVID-19

By Sally Crocker In light of new state guidelines issued last week, HSC public health expert Diana Cervantes offers some tips on how to conduct July 4th gatherings and other summertime activities with friends and family. The advice comes after the Texas Governor’s Office closed bars and ...Read more

Jun 30, 2020

Food Insecurity Donations Fc
Food insecurity concerns heighten for many as COVID-19 again surges

By Sally Crocker New HSC faculty member Charlotte Noble, PhD, MPH, and her family moved from Florida to Fort Worth in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when little was yet known about the reach of the virus, its outcomes and how long it would last. Months later, as states like Texas...Read more

Jun 29, 2020

Mayor Price Fc
50 Heroes: Mayor Betsy Price

Mayor Betsy Price and HSC share a mission to create solutions for a healthier community. Price, first elected Mayor in 2011, has consistently promoted strategies and activities that improve the fitness, health and well-being of Fort Worth residents. Her devotion to elevating the city’s over...Read more

Jun 29, 2020

Gwirtz Color Fc
‘This has been my home.’ Associate dean leaving HSC after nearly 38 years of special memories.

By Diane Smith When Patricia Gwirtz, PhD, FACC, FAHA, retires from her post as Associate Dean of Education at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences on June 30, she leaves the campus with bragging rights – she has taught physiology to every medical student since 1982. Dr. Gwirtz also...Read more

Jun 29, 2020