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If a veteran commits a crime and receives a prison sentence after completing military service, he or she may receive support and assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA has programs that help incarcerated veterans, and when these individuals comply with VA regulations, they may be able to receive this help after they are released.
Health Care for Re-entry Veterans Program
The Health Care for Re-entry Veterans Program (HCRV) addresses the community re-entry needs of veterans who have been incarcerated, and can help them transition back into civilian society. The program has three main components that veterans can take advantage of:
1. Outreach and pre-release assessments: While veterans are still in prison, they can utilize HCRV to create a plan to follow after they are released. Each state has different re-entry guides for incarcerated veterans in the area, which they should familiarize themselves with to understand the steps they can take after completing the sentence.
2. Connections and referrals to medical, social, psychiatric and employment services: When veterans are released from prison, they can utilize HCRV to find the support they need to live as law-abiding citizens.
3. Short-term case management: After completing the incarceration period, veterans may continue to work with a specialist for a short period of time to receive the assistance they need to get settled back at home.
Veterans Justice Outreach Program
The Veterans Justice Outreach Program (VJO) aims to help veterans avoid unnecessary criminalization of service-connected mental illnesses that may cause these individuals to become incarcerated. Conditions like post traumatic stress disorder can cause veterans to act out in a rash manner if left untreated. VJO helps veterans who are eligible for VA services to have access to health care and treatments they need to manage their condition and hopefully prevent future incarcerations. These services will be available to the veteran after he or she finishes serving the prison sentence.
If an incident does occur, a VJO specialist may reach out to the veteran to assess his or her case and ensure that the justice system is not working unfairly. While VJO does not provide legal services, the specialist may be able to help the veteran find legal assistance in the local community. The VJO program is very important for veterans because it allows them to stay connected with the VA even after they have had a run-in with the law, which can help promote a better future.
If you know of an incarcerated veteran who needs help, please share this information with them.