VIP Programs began on May 15, 1990. The panels are in the memory of David Kessler 25 years old, 1985 alcohol-related fatality and Robert Rich a 12-year-old, 1982 traffic fatality.
VIP does victim impact panels throughout the state of Missouri. The panel sessions inform and educate offenders of impaired driving, traffic violations, and minors in possession, about the dangers of driving a vehicle in an irresponsible and careless manner. The results of their decision-making can often cause trauma that has a rippling effect on all who are involved; whether it is the victim, the family, or the professional.
The panelists tell their experiences in a non-judgmental caring way, stressing each person's importance. Deanna Kessler, David's mother, tells of the death of her son by an impaired driver. There are other individuals, most often recovered alcoholics, who tell their stories as well. Police officers may also tell a story of how he feels when working a traffic crash, and then faces the task of telling the victim's family that a loved one has died. Often paramedics and firefighters share their stories too.
These shared experiences give names and faces to victims and increases awareness that these tragedies do not always happen to other people. It is gratifying to know people are becoming more aware not to drive after a few drinks and to use their seats belts not only for themselves but for their little ones as well.