The Veterans Justice Outreach Program help incarcerated veterans to get treatment for mental health issues, including combat-derived PTSD. This program prevents abusive treatment in the criminal justice system when the condition causing the incarceration is a mental health issue.
All aware Americans should inform veterans of the availability of this service, just in case some overaggressive government employee triggers a response that leads to jailing or prosecution of the veteran.
I inquired about this program and received the following answer. Please distribute to all mailing lists and blogs.
In April 2009 a mandate was issued for all VA Medical Centers to have a Veterans Justice Outreach Program (VJO). The purpose of the Veteran Justice Outreach Initiative (VJO) initiative is to avoid the unnecessary criminalization of mental illness and minimize extended incarceration among Veterans by ensuring that eligible justice-involved Veterans have timely access to VHA mental health and substance abuse services when clinically indicated and other VA services and benefits as appropriate. The Bay Pines VAHCS has two VJO specialist positions; one located at the Bay Pines VA Medical Center and the other located at the Lee County Healthcare Center. VJO specialist play a key role in the development and facilitation of Veterans Courts. The Bay Pines VAHCS has three distinct Veterans Courts and/or dockets in our nine county catchment area and have developed coordinated protocols for engaging veterans in several other judicial circuits that don’t have Veterans courts. All of these efforts have resulted in the coordinated justice outreach to approximately 120 veterans (does not represent the total number of justice involved veterans in the catchment area). The Bay Pines HCS VJO Specialists routinely participate in the planning and training of area law enforcement officers on mental health and veterans issues. VA VJO outreach specialist regularly visit local jails to engage incarcerated Veterans and connect them to VA services.
Please contact me by email or phone if you have additional questions.
Patrick Diggs, LCSW, BCD
Veterans Justice Outreach Coordinator
Bay Pines VAHCS
P. O. Box 5005
Bay Pines, FL 33744
(o) 727-398-6661 ext. 10306
Due to the nature of work in the Veterans Justice Outreach Program, there may be a delay in response time as we are often in a setting where we don’t have phone or email access. Thank you in advance for your patience.