Understanding Leads to Collaboration: Federal Services for Veterans with Criminal Backgrounds

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Collaborating with vocational rehabilitation and justice professionals from a broad range of agencies empowers State Vocational Rehabilitation professionals to better support Veterans as they seek to obtain and maintain quality employment.

Veterans with criminal records who obtain employment are more likely to successfully reintegrate into society than those who are unemployed. In fact, unemployed Veterans with criminal records are 3 times more likely to return to prison one year after release than individuals who are employed and making more than $10.00 per hour.

To facilitate collaboration and to better serve Veterans with criminal backgrounds, we encourage you to explore the following programs from the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:

  • Fidelity Bonding Program
  • Veteran Justice Outreach Program
  • Veteran’s Treatment Courts
  • Health Care for Re-Entry Veterans (HCRV) Services and Resources
  • VA VR Program Services for Veterans

Fidelity Bonding Program – U.S. Department of Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor established the Federal Bonding Program in 1966 as an incentive for employers to hire hard-to-place job seekers. The program offers bonds for “at-risk,” hard-to-place job seekers. The fidelity bonds:

  • are provided at no cost to the job applicant or employer
  • cover the first six months of employment
  • have a $5,000 limit with $0 deductible
  • have no age restriction (other than legal working age in the State)
  • cover all jobs and employers in all states

Fidelity bonds are very user friendly for employers. They do NOT require:

  • bond approval processing (local staff quickly issue bonds to employers)
  • employers to sign paperwork
  • follow-up or termination actions by the employer

Veteran Justice Outreach Program – U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The Veteran Justice Outreach Program is a prevention-focused component of the VA’s Homeless Programs Office. Its mission is to identify justice-involved Veterans and contact them to facilitate access to VA services at the earliest possible point. The program accomplishes this by building and maintaining partnerships between VA and key elements of the criminal justice system.

The VA cannot provide legal services to Veterans, but the Veteran Justice Outreach Program can help Veterans navigate the legal system with such things as getting a driver’s license or following a curfew, and can help Veterans enroll in Veterans Treatment Courts.

Veterans Treatment Courts (VTC) – U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Unlike traditional criminal courts, the primary purpose of a Veteran Treatment Court (VTC) is to ensure that Veterans receive treatment to address unmet clinical needs. As part of this program, Volunteer Veteran mentors provide non-clinical support to Veteran participants.

VTCs reflect the communities that choose to start them. There is considerable variation among the courts in both participant eligibility criteria and operational processes. These courts are not available in every region; Outreach Specialists in each state are valuable resources to learn what’s available locally.

Health Care for Re-Entry Veterans (HCRV) Services and Resources – U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Most Veterans who are in jail or prison will eventually re-enter the community. The VA’s Health Care for Re-Entry Veterans (HCRV) Services and Resources promote success and prevents homelessness among Veterans returning home after incarceration by providing:

  • outreach and pre-release assessment services for Veterans in prison
  • referrals and linkages to medical, mental health and social services, including employment services on release
  • short-term case management assistance on release

Contact the HCRV Specialist in your state or community for more information and assistance.

Vocational Rehabilitation Program Services for Veterans – U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Veterans with service-related disabilities may receive VR services from both the Veterans Administration and state VR agencies. Veterans’ eligibility for State VR services varies from state-to-state.

Use these resources to learn more about vocational rehabilitation services that may be available to Veterans through the VA:

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