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Veterans and the Justice System

As increasing numbers of combat veterans return from duty overseas, more needs to be done on helping these individuals adapt back to community life. Without adequate supports to ensure that these veterans are receiving appropriate mental health care many will go on to develop trauma-related disorders. With as many as 17 percent of returning veterans developing PTSD and other mental illnesses, the need for proactive initiatives becomes more and more apparent. When these disorders go untreated, there is an increased risk that these veterans will become involved in the justice system.

On May 9, 2008, SAMSHA's GAINS Center held a workshop on Creating Effective Responses for Combat Veterans with Trauma who Are Justice-Involved in Bethesda, MD.  This one time, one day meeting provided GAINS Center staff with a refined look at the important issues surrounding military service members. The Center's goal was to establish priorities for action in providing treatment for veterans and decreasing their involvement in the criminal justice system. Speakers at the meeting highlighted vital issues regarding service members including characteristics of the veteran population, information on PTSD, and the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The information gathered from this meeting was used to inform the activities of the 2008 CMHS National Returning Veterans Conference that was held in August 2008.

In addition, information gleaned from the presentations and discussions has assisted GAINS Center staff in drafting an issue brief for jail administrators to implement during the screening/assessment stage. The brief will aid administrators in identifying incoming veterans that may be in immediate need of mental health services. The brief will also help to establish priorities for action in providing treatment for veterans and decreasing their involvement in the criminal justice system, specifically members returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Download a copy of the brief here (PDF 404kb).

 

 



SAMHSA's GAINS Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Transformation
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