The VA has begun a new program which aims to reduce the number of repeat offences among veterans who have been incarcerated. The new program allows veterans in halfway houses and other post-incarceration housing to receive health care from VA health care facilities. Current rules require that if another agency, such as a prison, is responsible for the healthcare of a veteran, the VA cannot provide that veteran care. This rule will be changed, to allow VA care to newly released veterans residing in post incarceration housing.
Jim McGuire, the VA’s director for Veterans Justice Outreach Programs, says that “there’s hard evidence that a lack of access to health care, including mental health care, for newly released inmates is a factor in people becoming homeless or returning to prison.” The rule would be somewhat limiting though. Not all veterans who are released from prison would be eligible, only those who are eligible prior to spending time in prison.
According to the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately 109,000 to 146,000 veterans are released from federal, city, and county jails each year. The VA’s goal is to significantly reduce this number by effectively reducing recidivism.
Photo thanks to abardwell under creative common license on Flickr.