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Justice Involved Veterans Recovery & Support. Camila L. Lopez, LISW Veterans Justice Outreach Coordinator New Mexico VA Health Care System. United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).

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justice involved veterans recovery support

Justice Involved VeteransRecovery & Support

Camila L. Lopez, LISW

Veterans Justice Outreach Coordinator

New Mexico VA Health Care System

united states department of veterans affairs va
United States Department ofVeterans Affairs(VA)

Veterans Health Administration


Veterans Benefits Administration


National Cemetery Administration


All VA Healthcare

Primary Care

Mental Health

Specialty Care

Emergency Services

Community-based Clinics

All VA Benefits

GI Bill

Home Loan Guaranty

Vocational Rehab

Compensation & Pension (“Claims”)

All VA Cemetery Services

National and State Veteran Cemeteries



Presidential Memorial Certificates

Vet Center

United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)




Application for

Service Connection

Health Care

Submitting Evidence

1. Statement

2. Medical Records

3. C&P Doctor’s Medical Exam (If needed)

Evidence is Reviewed and Claim is Rated

veterans justice programs
Veterans Justice Programs
  • Health Care for Re-entry Veterans
    • Outreach to prisons
    • Assist Veterans within 6 months of release
      • Access VHA Medical & Behavioral Health Care
  • Veterans Justice Outreach
    • Outreach to detention centers, courts, law enforcement
    • Assist Veterans with access to Medical and Behavioral Health Care
  • The VJO program is a prevention focused component of the VHA homeless programs.
  • VJO serves as the clinical linkage to necessary treatment alternatives.
  • Link eligible justice involved veterans to needed medical care (including mental health, substance misuse, and vocational treatment).
bureau of justice statistics
Bureau of Justice Statistics
  • 2002: 9.3 percent of people incarcerated in county jails were veterans
  • 82% of those are eligible for VA services
  • Goal is to improve access to services for justice involved Veterans
  • Avoid unnecessary incarceration and criminalization of Veteran defendants and offenders with mental illness, substance misuse, and/or traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Diversion to treatment, when legally appropriate, is encouraged
no wrong door
“No Wrong Door”
  • Collaboration between the VA medical centers, community partners, and veteran service agencies (state and local)
justice involved veteran
Justice Involved Veteran
  • A Veteran in a local county jail or correctional facility awaiting adjudication for a criminal charge (not yet sentenced)
  • A Veteran in contact with local law enforcement who can be potentially diverted from arrest into mental health / substance abuse treatment
  • A Veteran involved in some level of monitoring by a court
justice outreach contacts
Justice Outreach Contacts
  • Law Enforcement & Emergency Services
  • Initial Detention
  • Jails and Specialty Courts
  • Probation & Parole
  • Community Correction and Support
jail outreach
Jail Outreach
  • Contact with local detention facilities
  • Identify Veterans in detention
  • Needs assessment
    • Income, housing, treatment
  • Link to treatment & services
  • Community Support
  • Peer Support
court outreach
Court Outreach
  • Pretrial Services
  • Probation
  • Public Defenders & Defense Attorneys
  • District Attorneys / Prosecutors
  • Specialty Court Administrators
veterans treatment courts
Veterans Treatment Courts
  • Based upon evidence based drug court model
  • When legally appropriate, offer alternative to detention (treatment)
  • Court teams are well informed about Veterans issues
  • Offer additional supports to increase likelihood of success
veterans treatment courts1
Veterans Treatment Courts
  • Generally pre-sentencing programs
  • Ongoing court supervision
  • Treatment requirements
  • Mentorship
peer support and mentors
Peer Support and Mentors
  • VHA hired Veterans as Peer Support Specialists
  • Veterans Courts seek Veteran volunteers to provide mentorship and support
veterans justice outreach peer support
Veterans Justice Outreach & Peer Support
  • Medical Center
  • Home
  • Community
  • Court
  • Walk with the Veteran
  • Non-judgmental approach
  • Common ground
va peer support case example
VA Peer Support Case Example

Mr. X is a combat Veteran with longstanding history of poly-substance use and history of related charges. He signed a plea agreement and believed his case was complete until the Court contacted him for sentencing years later.

Mr. X had completed residential and outpatient treatment and maintained recovery for 3 years.

The Veteran made contact with VJO Peer Support Specialist who identified Veteran as being in need of additional supports.

va peer support case example continued
VA Peer Support Case Example (continued)

Peer Support Specialist and VJO attended court hearings and advocated for Veteran within the system.

Mr. X was accepted into a specialty court and is on track to complete his court involvement successfully.

Peer Support Specialist works with this Veteran as he deals with frustration and confusion about the court process.

veterans court mentorship
Veterans Court Mentorship


  • Insure that every Veteran receives the services needed to navigate the court, VA, and other systems.
  • The Mentor acts as friend, ally and advocate.

Slide courtesy of Buffalo Veterans Court Mentor Program

goals of mentorship in vet courts
Goals of Mentorship in Vet Courts
  • Help Veterans navigate court, VA, and treatment systems
  • Help with readjustment to civilian life
  • Help Veteran and family access services
veteran mentor roles
Veteran Mentor Roles
  • Coach
  • Facilitator
  • Advisor
  • Sponsor
  • Supporter
  • Friend
  • Not a counselor/therapist
mentor qualities
Mentor Qualities

Slide courtesy of Buffalo Veterans Court Mentor Program

veterans court mentor case example
Veterans Court Mentor Case Example

Mr. A is a OIF Veteran initially identified in the detention system. Justice involvement is directly related to serious mental illness and co-occurring substance misuse.

Mr. A was referred to Veterans Court but struggled to meet the requirements of that program and was in danger of unsuccessful termination until he was referred to a Vet Court Mentor.

veterans court mentor case example continued
Veterans Court Mentor Case Example (continued)

The Veterans Court Mentor developed a relationship with Veteran through visits to his home, and helping with access to necessities and services.

The relationship allows for honest communication which has improved the Veteran’s participation.

Mr. A is a “high risk, high needs” client as identified by the Drug Court and Vet Court models.

veterans court mentor case example continued1
Veterans Court Mentor Case Example (continued)

The Vet Court Mentor continues to be highly active in supporting Mr. A through medical illness, relapse, and psychosocial stressors which challenge his ability to participate in the court program.

The commitment of the Vet Court Mentor makes it possible for this Veteran to benefit from treatment and the opportunity offered by the Veterans Treatment Court.

  • www.justiceforvets.org
  • www.va.gov/homeless/vjo
  • www.nchv.org
    • National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
  • www.buffaloveteranscourt.org
  • www.csctulsa.org
    • Tulsa Veterans Treatment Court
  • http://www.ncsc.org/sitecore/content/microsites/future-trends-2012/home/Courts-and-the-Community/3-1-A-Mentor-in-Combat-Veterans-Court.aspx