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March/april 2010

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Veterans Incarcerated


VIN-1-95 Veterans in the Criminal Justice System was introduced almost 15 years ago. VVA remains committed to supporting veterans who encounter the justice system and helping those who are incarcerated. We urge that court systems recognize PTSD as a mitigating factor. PTSD and its myriad of closely associated behavior issues involving drugs, alcohol, and mental health should be treated through programs stressing rehabilitation, diversion, and community service.

This resolution also supports incarcerated veteran access to reasonable and appropriate veteran benefits and services. VIN-1-95 calls upon all local, state, and federal detention facilities to establish working relationships with the VA. VIN 1-95 resolves that the Department of Justice (DOJ) through the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) enforce the reporting mandate necessary for accurate identification of veterans encountered by criminal justice agencies.

The last year has seen steady progress in these areas. The courts have increasingly accepted and recognized PTSD as an acceptable legal defense or as a factor in mitigation at sentencing. Similarly, the growth of Veteran Courts creating diversionary and treatment-oriented options for veterans encountering the justice system is another indication of substantial progress on this resolution.

The 2007 BJS Veterans in the Criminal Justice report reflects progress being made at identifying veterans encountering the justice system. VIN-1-95 has been accomplished and should be retired.

VIN-2-95 VVA Chapter and State Council Relationships with Veterans Incarcerated urges VVA State Councils help veterans incarcerated chapters and encourages local VVA chapter involvement. VIN-2-95 also notes the importance of transitional services for incarcerated veterans as they re-enter communities and encourages State Councils and Chapters to support and develop transitional programs. VIN-2-95 remains relevant as new generations of veterans encounter the justice system.

VIN-3-01 Veterans Incarcerated Benefits and Entitlement resolves that the VA is responsible for providing benefits to all veterans, including those involved in the justice system. Of particular concern are veterans in need of mental health services and programs promoting rehabilitation and transitional assistance. VIN-3-01 resolves that: The VA more aggressively provide medical treatment and counseling for veterans incarcerated, with special emphasis on PTSD and other service-related disabilities; the VA work closer with federal, state, and local correctional facilities to help veterans incarcerated work toward successful rehabilitation; and the VA work more closely with DOJ to ensure reliable methods to identify veterans involved with the justice system.

The VA has shown progress in addressing the issues of VIN-3-01, particularly in the hiring of VISN Re-entry Specialists. VIN-3-01 remains viable and appropriate.

At the 2011 National Convention, the Veterans Incarcerated Committee will propose changing the committee name and purpose to the Veterans Justice Committee and will recommend retirement of outstanding VIC resolutions. New resolutions to support veterans challenged by the justice system will be proposed.

The Veterans Incarcerated Committee: TP Hubert, Chair; Thomas Burke, Vice Chair. Members: Allen Manuel, Tom Meinhardt, Richard DeLong, Ken Braker, Robert Seal, and Connie C. Christiansen. Special Advisors: Penny Meinhardt (AVVA), Robert Sanderson (VMW), Wayne Miller, and Matt Davison. Staff Support: Elaine Chaney.



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