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  • (202) 514-2007
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WASHINGTON – Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the Department of Justice is awarding more than $1 million in Recovery Act formula grants for Kansas state victim assistance and victim compensation programs. The Attorney General made the announcement in his remarks at the National Crime Victims' Rights Week Awards Ceremony where he also recognized Gracia Burnham of Rosehill, Kan., for her efforts on behalf of crime victims. The ceremony is a prelude to the nation's observance of National Crime Victims' Rights Week, April 26-May 2, 2009.

"We all owe a debt to these honorees and to the countless other advocates across the country who tirelessly work to protect victims' rights," Attorney General Eric Holder said. "The Department of Justice is committed to protecting victims' rights, which is why I'm so pleased we've been able to dedicate funds from the Recovery Act to assist these advocates in their invaluable work."

For more than 15 years, Mrs. Burnham and her husband, Martin, served as missionaries with the New Tribes Mission in the Philippines. In May 2001, the couple decided to spend a night at the Dos Palmas Island Resort in the Palawan area of the Philippines to celebrate their 18th wedding anniversary. They were awakened by armed gunmen affiliated with the terrorist organization Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). The Burnhams were among 20 hostages seized that morning and forced into a waiting motorboat. Throughout their terrifying ordeal which lasted more than a year they both exhibited remarkable strength and courage. On June 7, 2002, members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines found their encampment and a firefight ensued in which Mr. Burnham was killed and Mrs. Burnham was shot in the leg, but survived and was rescued. Since that time, Mrs. Burnham has dedicated herself to pursuing justice against the terrorists who held them captive.

In addition to presenting Mrs. Burnham with a Special Courage Award, the Attorney General recognized nine other individuals and programs for their service to crime victims. More information about the Recovery Act Victim Assistance and Compensation formula grants and National Crime Victims' Rights Week is available at: