Milwaukee VA Medical Center
Healthcare for Re-entry Veterans Program
I have recently been charged with a crime. What can the Veteran Justice Program do for me?
The Veteran Justice Program can provide information about potential court programs that might be considered for your case. It is possible a Veterans Treatment Court might be available, but it’s important to understand the district attorney’s office makes the determination of whether Veteran Treatment Court is offered. The VJO staff can assist you in applying for VA health care, provide diagnostic assessments, treatment referrals, and assist you in navigating the criminal justice system. Please keep reading for stories and Qs and As below about Milwaukee's Veterans Treatment Court and how it can help you.
What is Veterans Treatment Court, and how could that help me?
Veterans Treatment Court is a diversion treatment court developed to recognize the special needs of the Veterans who have served and sacrificed for their country. Veterans are offered treatment services to help with readjustment to civilian life, counseling and other behavioral health treatment services. Veterans are also assisted with developing a vocational or education plan if necessary. Veterans have access to additional support resources, including but not limited to recovery support specialists, mentor or peer support providers. Often completion of Veterans Treatment Court leads to a reduction or dismissal of criminal charges, or a reduction in jail sentence days.
I’ve already been charged and sentenced with a crime, is there anything the Veterns Justice Program or Veterans Treatment Court can do to change my record?
The VJP is able to provide assistance to Veterans with criminal court charges that are still pending. If you wish to have a case re-opened, you would need to speak with an attorney about your legal rights and options.
I need some legal assistance for something other than a criminal charge. Can the VJO program help me?
While the VJO program does not provide direct services to persons with non-criminal legal matters, they might be able to offer referrals to various attorneys, free legal clinics, and other resources that might be able to provide more information to you.
What if I’m in prison, am I able to access any VA services?
The Health Care for Re-Entry Veterans Program program provides face-to-face outreach to Veterans while they are still incarcerated, one to 12 months prior to their release date, to assist with re-entry planning back into the community.
Veterans Treatment Court a lifesaver for Vets
One Veteran was looking at serious charges after his PTSD threatened his marriage and life. He found hope and healing in Veterans Treatment Court. Learn More.
What services are provided by Healthcare for Re-entry Veterans Program?
HCRV will attempt to meet with you where you are incarcerated to provide assessment of your re-entry needs and referral to VA and community resources that you can access after you release. You will be provided with a copy of the Incarcerated Veteran’s Guidebook that includes referral information about medical, psychiatric, substance abuse treatment services available, as well as housing and employment services. Once you’re released, your HCRV Specialist is available to provide short-term case management if needed.
What if I’ve never accessed VA Care, or don’t know if I’m eligible?
You should meet with the HCRV specialist who can provide assistance in verifying VA eligibility as well as assistance enrolling in VA Health Care Services. They can also assist you in acquiring a copy of your military discharge papers (DD-214) and previous military medical records.
Veterans Treatment Court: Why it's successful
Milwaukee County's Veterans Treatment Couirt has a 78 percent graduation rate thanks to the team approach the court takes in getting Veterans the help they need. Learn More.
What is Veterans Treatment Court?
Veterans Treatment Court is a nontraditional approach to criminal justice in which Veterans charged with certain crimes can work to address problems – such as substance abuse or mental health issues – which contributed to their charges. Those who complete the program typically have the charges reduced or dismissed.
How does it work?
Veterans who qualify for VTC enter a highly structured program, where a team of professionals works with the Veteran to overcome the problems that led to the charges. The program is voluntary. A series of goals and benchmarks are set, and Veterans must appear before the court on a regular basis to show that the goals are being met.
What are some of the goals and benchmarks?
Abstinence from drugs and alcohol is required, and those enrolled in VTC must undergo frequent – and totally random – drug testing. In addition, participants may also be required to participate in treatment and show that they are being a responsible citizen – i.e. holding down a job, meeting family responsibilities, etc.
How often are VTC court sessions?
The court in Milwaukee County meets once a week, though not all participants are required to appear each week. The frequency depends on the case and the progress the Veteran shows.
A day in Veterans Treatment Court
One of the advantages of Veterans Treatment Court is its more personal connections, as the judge interacts with the Veterans numerous times as they progress through the program. Learn More.
How long is the program?
Depending on their progress, Veterans could be in VTC anywhere from six months to two years, or possibly longer.
What if a Veteran does not meet the goals?
Veterans who miss benchmarks are allowed to “restart” and try to get back on track. However, if court officials determine that the Veteran is not working toward graduation, the Veteran can be revoked from the program and the case reverts back to the normal criminal justice system. Veterans can also voluntarily withdraw from the program if they feel they cannot meet the requirements, but they can still continue with services provided by VA and the community.
What happens if all the goals are met?
If that happens, the Veteran “graduates” from VTC and a recommendation is sent to the district attorney, typically to reduce or drop the charges in the case. The court holds a graduation ceremony during which the Veteran receives a certificate of completion and other accolades. Additionally, VTC may provide incentives, such as movie passes, gift cards and recognition as “Veteran of the Week” to those meeting certain goals and benchmarks throughout the program.
Are Veterans who graduate guaranteed of not serving jail time?
No. While charges are typically reduced, depending on the circumstances of the case, the Veterans still could be sentenced to jail. Veterans are also subject to possible jail sanctions while in the program due to noncompliance.
Are all Veterans charged with crimes eligible for VTC?
No. Typically only Veterans charged with nonviolent crimes qualify, which typically involve drug or alcohol abuse or mental health needs.
How do Veterans enroll in VTC?
Anyone can refer a Veteran to VTC, though it is up to the court to review the case and determine whether or not the Veterans will be accepted into the program. Information on the Milwaukee County Veterans Treatment Court is available at www.milwaukeecountyvtc.com or by calling 414-278-2061.
Do all counties have VTC?
No. There are no local, state or federal mandates to offer VTC. As of June 2018, there were 551 VTCs across the country, with numbers continuing to grow. In Wisconsin, there are nine VTCs. Counties that participate have agreed to provide the resources to do so.
How else can VTC help Veterans?
The court also links Veterans to programs, benefits and services they have earned based on their military service. This could include help with housing, education, employment and job training, among others.
How can people become more involved in VTC?
For more information on how to help VTC, contact Jake Patten at Jacob.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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