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Veterans Page

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Veterans can sometimes run into issues with law enforcement and the criminal justice system resulting in incarceration. It is important justice-involved Veterans are familiar with VA benefits including what VA benefits they may still be eligible to receive, what happens to the VA benefits they are already receiving if they become incarcerated, and what programs are available to assist them with reintegrating back into the community once released from incarceration.

This page was created to assist veterans who have been Incarcerated as well as their families. The programs and resources on this page can help reduce the pressures associated with reentry. Our hope is that you will find these resources helpful in providing relief as you face the challenges of finding and supporting an effective  way of life after incarceration.Thank you for your service to our country.

Veterans in Prison and Jail, 2011–2012, Presents counts and rates of veterans in state and federal prison and local jail in 2011 and 2012. This report describes incarcerated veterans by demographic characteristics, military characteristics, and disability and mental health status. It describes current offense, sentencing, and criminal history characteristics by veteran status. It also examines combat experience associated with lifetime mental health disorders among incarcerated veterans. Findings are based on data from the National Inmate Survey, conducted between February 2011 and May 2012. Data from previous BJS surveys of inmates in prison and jail are used to establish historical trends regarding incarcerated veterans.

Highlights:

  • The number of veterans incarcerated in state and federal prison and local jail decreased from 203,000 in 2004 to 181,500 in 2011-12.

  • The total incarceration rate in 2011-12 for veterans (855 per 100,000 veterans in the United States) was lower than the rate for nonveterans (968 per 100,000 U.S. residents).

  • Non-Hispanic black and Hispanic inmates made up a significantly smaller proportion of incarcerated veterans (38% in prison and 44% in jail), compared to incarcerated non-Hispanic black and Hispanic nonveterans (63% in prison and 59% in jail).

  • A greater percentage of veterans (64%) than nonveterans (48%) were sentenced for violent offenses.

  • An estimated 43% of veterans and 55% of nonveterans in prison had four or more prior arrests.

VA Programs for Justice Involved Veterans

Health Care for Re-entry Veterans (HCRV) Program

The HCRV Program is designed to help incarcerated Veterans successfully reintegrate back into the community after their release. A critical part of HCRV is providing information to Veterans while they are incarcerated, so they can plan for re-entry themselves. A primary goal of the HCRV program is to prevent Veterans from becoming homeless once they are reintegrated back into the community.

Learn more about the Health Care for Re-entry Veterans Programs

Veteran Justice Outreach (VJO) Initiative

The VJO initiative is designed to help Veterans avoid unnecessary criminalization of mental illness and extended incarceration by ensuring eligible justice-involved Veterans receive timely access to VA health care, specifically mental health and substance use services (if clinically indicated) and other VA services and benefits as appropriate.

Learn more about the Veteran Justice Outreach Initiative.

Veteran Legal Advocacy

www.repwavets.org provides basic civil legal and cultural information, enabling veterans advocates in Washington to understand and navigate the complex system of federal, state, and local benefits, services, and programs that are available for veterans.

How Incarceration Affects Eligibility for VA Benefits

VA can pay certain benefits to Veterans who are incarcerated in a Federal, State, or local penal institution; however, the amount depends on the type of benefit and reason for incarceration.

Disability Compensation

VA disability compensation payments are reduced if a Veteran is convicted of a felony and imprisoned for more than 60 days. Veterans rated 20 percent or more are limited to the 10 percent disability rate. For a Veteran whose disability rating is 10 percent, the payment is reduced by one-half. Once a Veteran is released from prison, compensation payments may be reinstated based upon the severity of the service connected disability(ies) at that time. Payments are not reduced for recipients participating in work release programs, residing in halfway houses (also known as “residential re-entry centers”), or under community control. The amount of any increased compensation awarded to an incarcerated Veteran that results from other than a statutory rate increase may be subject to reduction due to incarceration.

Pension

Veterans in receipt of VA pension will have payments terminated effective the 61st day after imprisonment in a Federal, State, or local penal institution for conviction of a felony or misdemeanor. Payments may be resumed upon release from prison if the Veteran meets VA eligibility requirements. Failure to notify VA of a Veteran’s incarceration could result in the loss of all financial benefits until the overpayment is recovered.

Apportionment to Spouse or Children

All or part of the compensation not paid to an incarcerated Veteran may be apportioned to the Veteran’s spouse, child or children, and dependent parents on the basis of individual need. In determining individual need, consideration shall be given to such factors as the claimant’s income and living expenses, the amount of compensation available to be apportioned, the needs and living expenses of other claimants as well as any special needs, if any, of all claimants.

Additional Information:

  • VA will inform a Veteran whose benefits are subject to reduction of the right of the Veteran’s dependents to an apportionment while the Veteran is incarcerated, and the conditions under which payments to the Veteran may be resumed upon release from incarceration.

  • VA will also notify the dependents of their right to an apportionment if the VA is aware of their existence and can obtain their addresses.

  • No apportionment may be made to or on behalf of any person who is incarcerated in a Federal, State, or local penal institution for conviction of a felony.

  • An apportionment of an incarcerated Veteran’s VA benefits is not granted automatically to the Veteran’s dependents. The dependent(s) must file a claim for an apportionment.

Education Benefits

Beneficiaries incarcerated for other than a felony can receive full monthly benefits, if otherwise entitled. Convicted felons residing in halfway houses (also known as “residential re-entry centers”), or participating in work-release programs also can receive full monthly benefits.

Claimants incarcerated for a felony conviction can be paid only the costs of tuition, fees, and necessary books, equipment, and supplies. VA cannot make payments for tuition, fees, books, equipment, or supplies if another Federal State or local program pays these costs in full.

If another government program pays only a part of the cost of tuition, fees, books, equipment, or supplies, VA can authorize the incarcerated claimant payment for the remaining part of the costs.

Additional Information

Each VA Regional Office has a Homeless Veterans Outreach Coordinator who assists justice-involved Veterans. They are a direct point of contact for you to learn more about what benefits you qualify for, assist you with applying for those benefits, and refer you to other organizations and resources that will help you with your specific needs. To find your local Homeless Veterans Outreach Coordinator, please call VA’s National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838).

Homeless Veterans

Many Veterans face challenges throughout their lives that may lead them to lose their home, eventually becoming homeless. VA recognizes that every homeless Veteran’s story is different, including their specific needs to help them get back into permanent and stable housing. There are many VA benefits that may support your specific needs, so it is important you know what benefits you may be eligible for.

VA Benefits

Homeless Veterans may be eligible for a wide-variety of benefits available to all U.S. military Veterans. VA benefits include disability compensation, pension, education and training, health care, home loans, insurance, vocational rehabilitation and employment, and burial. See our Veterans page for an overview of the benefits available to all Veterans.

VA Benefits for Homeless Veterans

Health Care

The VA Health Care Network provides care to Veterans across the nation at VA Medical Centers, Community-Based Outpatient Clinics, and Vet Centers. Many of these facilities offer health care programs for homeless Veterans, including mental health services.

Learn more about health care and mental health services for homeless Veterans.

Housing Assistance

There are many federal housing programs that can support homeless Veterans and their families. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and VA Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH) partner to provide permanent, supportive housing and treatment services for homeless Veterans.

Learn more about HUD-VASH.

Employment Assistance

VA has many employment and training programs that provide homeless Veterans and Veterans at-risk of homelessness the opportunity to return to healthy, productive lifestyles within their communities.

Learn more about VA employment programs.

Foreclosure Assistance

If you have a VA loan but are having trouble making your mortgage payments, it is very important that you take steps to avoid a foreclosure. VA may be able to help.

Learn more about Foreclosure Assistance.

How to Apply

Each VA Regional Office has a Homeless Veterans Outreach Coordinator who is a direct point of contact for you to learn more about what benefits you qualify for, assist you with applying for those benefits, and refer you to other organizations and resources that will help you get back on your feet.

To find your local Homeless Veterans Outreach Coordinator, please visit the nearest VA Regional Office or call VA’s National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838).

More Resources

The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) was established to meet the needs of veterans during their period of transition into civilian life by offering job-search assistance and related services. The guide books below were created specifically to support you by applying considerations from your service life to your job seeking. Check in with your local TAP program to find out about jobs that are available near you. To locate your local support office, click on this link:http://www.benefits.va.gov/vow/tap.asp

 

Personal Appraisal & Career Exploration

Job Search Strategies & Interviews

Reviewing Job Offers & Support and Assistance

 

Veterans Reentry Guides (All States)

(Click here to view our state by state) https://www.fairshake.net/reentry-resources/search-for-a-resource/#reentryDirectoriesGuidesHeader

 

Incarcerated Veterans Family Support

http://www.doc.wa.gov/family/veterans.asp

The Department of Corrections is committed to assisting incarcerated veterans to access the many benefits and services that may be available to them and their families. This web page provides information and links to state and federal veterans’ benefits, programs and services. As a counselor, volunteer, staff person or CCO, you may provide this information to offenders in order to help them and their families access these services.

President Obama signed the “VOW to Hire Heroes Act” into law on November 21, 2011. The Returning Heroes Tax Credit provides businesses that hire unemployed veterans a maximum credit of $5,600 per veteran, and the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit offers businesses that hire veterans with service–connected disabilities a maximum credit of $9,600 per veteran.

Employment Opportunities

Military to Federal Jobs Crosswalk – Identify federal jobs related to your military occupation.

Career One–Stop – A Veteran Re–employment Resource that will locate an American Job Center near your hometown.

Veterans Guide to Getting Hired – This is an informational site to assist veterans in their job search: Resources, Tips and Advice for Veterans Returning to the Workforce.

Helmets to Hardhats

If you’re looking for a career, you’re in the right place. Helmets to Hardhats connects quality men and women from the Armed Forces with promising building and construction careers.

VETNET — A Career Service for Those Who’ve Served

VETNET is a collaboration between veteran–focused non–governmental organizations designed to help vets and their families find careers. Transitioning from military to civilian life presents unique challenges. To make things easier and provide structure, a few of the leading organizations in veteran career development have combined forces to create one easy place to start.

  • Get your resume and career search skills squared away

  • Connect with industry leaders

  • Attend classes to learn how to start your own business

O*NET OnLine (Occupational Information

Network)

O*NET is a web–based application that can provide military personnel with a crosswalk of jobs worked in the military to jobs in the civilian workforce that have similar job requirements.

Veterans Health Identification Card

http://www.va.gov/HEALTHBENEFITS/vhic/index.asp

The Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC) provides:

  • Increased security for your personal information – no personally identifiable information is contained on the magnetic stripe or barcode.

  • Unique Member Identifier — Department of Defense assigns an electronic data interchange personal identifier (EDIPI) that allows VA to retrieve the Veteran’s health record.

  • A salute to your military service – The emblem of your latest branch of service is displayed on your card. Several special awards will also be listed.

  • Accessibility – Braille “VA” helps visually impaired Veterans to recognize and use the card

  • Anti-Counterfeiting – Microtext helps prevent reproductions

The VHIC is issued only to Veterans who are enrolled in the VA health care system.