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VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System

 

Veteran Justice Outreach

About the Program

The VA believes that both the Veteran and the Community are better served by treating Veteran’s mental health problems rather than putting him or her behind bars when appropriate.

Veteran's Justice Outreach (VJO) staff work to help eligible justice-involved Veterans get mental health services including:

  • Assessment
  • Treatment planning
  • Referrals to VA services

VJO Coordinators serve as a link between Veterans, VA, and the local Justice System.

CLICK HERE to download a copy of the Veterans Justice Outreach Program brochure.

VJO Initiative

The purpose of the Veteran’s Justice Outreach Initiative (VJO) is to avoid the unnecessary criminalization and extended incarceration among Veterans with mental health problems. The goal of the Justice Outreach Program is to provide treatment and support to Veterans who find themselves involved in the criminal justice system.

With the help of the community, the Veteran’s Health Administration (VHA) has a plan  to help eligible justice-involved Veterans have timely access to VHA mental health and substance abuse services in order to avoid incarceration.

With the ultimate goal of keeping Veteran’s out of the traditional judicial system, the Center for Mental Health Service and the Department of Veterans Affairs strive to provide the treatment and tools Veterans need to cope with problems.

Veteran’s Treatment Courts are part of the community justice system and operate in cooperation with local VA’s and Veteran Service Organizations. Veteran’s Justice Coordinators strive to coordinate treatment and communicate progress to the courts.

Our Plan...

The VA is requiring justice-focused activity at the Medical Center level. VA Medical Centers have been strongly encouraged to develop working relationships with the court system and local law enforcement and must now provide outreach to justice-involved Veterans in the communities they serve.

Each VA Medical Center has been asked to designate a facility-based Veterans’ Justice Outreach Coordinator, responsible for direct outreach, assessment, and case management for justice-involved Veterans in local courts and jails, and liaison with local justice system partners.

If a Veteran is eligible, the decision to go through treatment court is up to him or her.  Veterans who choose treatment court are assessed by a mental health care provider at the VA.  The provider decides what the Veteran's treatment needs are.  Most Veterans receive treatment through the VA network.

By working together with our communities, we believe that we can change the lives of our Veterans by providing care in place of incarceration.

What a VJO Can Do

  • Serve Veterans of all eras, assess Veteran’s health care needs, identify appropriate VA and non-VA services.
  • Refer and link Veteran to comprehensive health care services.
  • With Veteran consent, communicate essentials to the court and other members of the legal community (attendance, progress, treatment testing, discharge plan).
  • Function as a court team member.
  • Provide Evidence Based Treatment for court-monitored Veterans.

What a VJO Can’t Do

  • Perform forensic psychiatric/psychological evaluations for the court, accept custody, guarantee program acceptance.
  • Write lengthy court reports, complete diversion paperwork, advocate for legislation or serve VHA ineligible Veterans.
  • Decide criminal justice criteria for Veteran Court participation or decide who gains admission to specialty treatment court.

Issues such as whether or not a Veteran is competent to stand trial are not addressed by this program.

Contact Information

Leslie Witherell, LISW-S
VJO Coordinator
VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (Toledo CBOC)
567-225-3739
Leslie.Witherell@va.gov
Serving Definance, Fulton, Hancock, Henry, Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky, Seneca, Williams, and Wood Counties

Jamie Wright, LMSW
VJO Coordinator
VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (Ann Arbor Medical Center)
734-478-3551
Jamie.Wright@va.gov
Serving Monroe, Jackson, Lenawee, and Washtenaw Counties

Brad Watkins, LMSW
VJO Coordinator
VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (Ann Arbor Medical Center)
734-369-1300
Bradford.Watkins@va.gov
Serving Genesee, Livingston, western Wayne, and western Oakland Counties

Contact Info

Location

  • VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System

Contact Number(s)

  • 734-478-3551
  • 734-369-1300

Hours of Operation

  • Mon-Fri 8:00am-4:30pm