ABSTRACT

Veterans Justice Outreach Program: Further Actions to Identify and Address Barriers to Participation Would Promote Access to Services, Report to Congressional Committees   [open pdf - 4MB]

From the Highlights: "In response to the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act of 2018, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) data show the agency hired 51 Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) specialists, though VA completed its hiring and reporting after the statute's deadline. The program relies on nearly 400 VJO specialists-- primarily social workers--who work with jails and municipal courts to identify and assess the needs of arrested or incarcerated veterans, and connect them to VA health care services. In addition, VA's reporting to Congress lacked required information, such as the number of veterans who lack access to VJO specialists. Although VA does not collect these data, VJO program officials said that future research will help them estimate this number. VA has identified and taken some steps to address barriers that veterans may face in accessing VJO specialists and receiving services. GAO [Government Accountability Office] additionally found that veterans with other-than-honorable discharges--often at greater risk of mental health issues and suicide--may not know they are eligible under a 2020 VA policy that extends mental health care services to certain members of this subgroup. In addition, this policy change and newly available services are not reflected in training for VJO specialists. As a result, veterans may not meet with VJO specialists and miss an opportunity to get help accessing VA's health care services."

Report Number:
GAO-21-564
Publisher:
Date:
2021-09-14
Copyright:
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/
Format:
pdf
Media Type:
application/pdf
URL:
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