The Veteran Affairs, also popularly known as the VA department, takes considerable stride to fulfill President Lincoln’s wish, which was to help the widow and orphan of the soldier and honor and take care of veteran men and women.’
The VA department offers various programs that give veterans numerous benefits, whether it is getting a mortgage for a home, healthcare incentives, or employment. However, veterans can sometimes have trouble and issues with the law that may result in incarceration. The time a veteran spends in incarceration depends on the law that has been violated.
The Purpose of Incarceration Veterans Program
It can be challenging for veterans when facing incarceration, but the silver lining is that the veterans may still be eligible to receive the benefits provided to them by the VA department. The veterans need to know
- The programs that can assist them back into the community after being released from incarceration, and
- What facilities and services they can get if they get incarcerated.
The incarcerated veterans program is purposefully designed to help the veterans with a myriad of options and make them feel cared for even when they feel helpless. The program’s main goal is to ensure that veterans are effectively reinstated back into the community and veterans are given proper assistance to prevent homelessness.
Depending on the situation, there are instances that justice-involved veterans may still qualify for certain benefits that may include home loans, pension, health care, disability compensation, and insurance. The term ‘justice-involved veterans’ means former service personnel under supervision or detained by the criminal justice system.
The implications of violating any law may range from an arrest to legal proceedings and even incarceration in prison. The VA department has designed and put forward different programs that address the physical and mental well-being of the veterans if they are incarcerated.
Why the need for Program for Incarcerated Veterans
A large percentage of veterans who have a run with the law and justice system is said to be struggling with problems such as depression, anxiety, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), substance abuse, and alcohol addiction.
With the increase of mental and emotional problems, there are further chances of veterans ending up homeless and hopeless once the incarceration period ends. The veterans may also find it hard to find work and manage the ever-increasing healthcare costs.
The Health Care for Re-entry Veterans (HCRV) Program is one of the best programs that deal explicitly with veterans who face incarceration. The crucial aspect of HCRV is to provide valuable assistance and information once the veterans are facing legal trouble. The purpose of providing the information is to help veterans plan for themselves once they reenter the community.
The assistance provided by HCRV also boosts veterans’ confidence and makes them feel supported in times when they see little redemption. The Veteran Justice Outreach (VJO) Initiative is another program responsible for overseeing that the veterans do not have to face the abuse in prison that other regular inmates face.
Excessive criminalization and abuse can aggravate veterans’ mental issues and may trigger hallucinations and other emotional problems in some veterans. The VJO ensures that the veterans have access to timely VA health care services, particularly when it comes to mental health and substance use.
How Incarceration can affect Veterans to receive VA Benefits
The VA department provides numerous benefits to veterans and makes them feel dignified and respectable members of the community. VA provides certain services even if veterans may face incarceration, but the benefits may vary due to the type of reason for incarceration. Some of the aspects covered by VA include
The pension payments are suspended if the incarceration period is more than 2 months. The veteran can receive a pension once releasing from prison and meeting the criteria of VA eligibility. If a veteran fails to notify the VA about the incarceration, then all the financial benefits will be lost until the overpayment is not done.
The VA gives the disability compensation, but the payments are suspended if the veteran is imprisoned for a felony or misdemeanor for more than 60 days. The veterans who enjoy 20% are downgraded to 10% disability rate. A veteran with a 10% rate gets one-half of the compensation.
The disability compensation can be reinstated once the veteran completes the incarceration and is released into the community. The compensation payments are not reduced for those veterans living in sober living homes and those who participate in work release programs.
Compensation to Spouses and Children
The compensation not paid to a veteran who faces incarceration may be apportioned or given to the veteran’s wife, child, children, or even dependent parents. The compensation may be divided based on every individual’s needs, dependent on the veteran. Few factors are considered when compensation is distributed, such as
- The income and living expense of the veteran
- The amount of compensation that may be available to the wife, children, or dependent parents
- Any special needs of the claimant
The VA department will inform the veteran whose benefits or compensation will be reduced. The VA will also inform the dependents of veterans about their right to apportionment. The compensation is not directly given, and the dependents must file a claim to receive compensation on behalf of the veteran who is incarcerated.
The veterans convicted of a misdemeanor living in halfway houses or participating in work release programs can be entitled to receive full monthly benefits. The veterans convicted for a felony charge are also eligible for the educational benefits but may only be paid for tuition, supplies, books, and fees. The VA will not make the payments if another state covers the costs of tuition, fees, or books.
Apart from VA, there is a certain private organization that may hold events and gathers funds that help veterans to reenter the community after incarceration easily. The services provided by the reentry organization include housing, education, employment, and career development to veterans who are recently or formerly incarcerated.
Joe Andrew works in a non-profit organization that looks after incarcerated veterans and helps them become a part of the community. Joe also frequently writes in different online magazines and stresses the need to care for the veterans of the community.