The State of New Jersey is pleased to announce the establishment of the Statewide Veterans Diversion Program (“VDP”). P.L. 2017, c. 42. The VDP offers eligible servicemembers with mental illnesses suspected of committing an eligible offense a path away from the criminal justice system. The purpose of the program is to provide those who have served or are serving our country and suffering from mental illness the help they need. By routing eligible servicemembers with mental illness(es) suspected or charged with eligible offenses through existing community and government-based resources, we hope to serve those who have served our country.
Records: If you need to obtain your DD214 or other military documents, you may be able to so by following the procedure described at www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records. You can also contact the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) or if you were New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (“DMAVA”), who may be able to assist you in that process.
DMAVA: The New Jersey’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is a State office that is responsible for supporting the New Jersey Army and Air National Guard, administering veterans’ programs and services for veterans living in New Jersey, and manages and operates three veterans’ memorial homes. Their support includes, but is not limited to, providing information on state benefits, links to federal benefits and support, and all related veteran assistance. There are 16 DMAVA-operated “Veteran Service Offices” (“VSOs”) available to assist and consult with all services, including referral to an appropriate VDP resource entity, as well as a housing referral services. County-operated VSOs provide similar services but may be more knowledgeable about the local community’s resources available to the veteran. Note, these offices are not part of DMAVA.
To find a VSO location near you:
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-24b, DMAVA has prepared a directory of Veterans Diversion Resource entities within New Jersey. These entities may be able to provide mental health services that you are seeking or refer you to an entity that can. The guide includes the list of the VA medical centers and Vet Centers in New Jersey and the surrounding area. The guide is attached here.
VA: The United States Department of Veterans Affairs coordinates benefits for veterans of the American armed forces and their dependents.
Veteran Justice Outreach (VJO) Specialists assist veterans involved with the justice system, such as those looking to enter or already enrolled in VDP. VJO Specialists can assist in communicating with the courts, the VA treatment team, and link Veterans to appropriate VA and non-VA community services. You do not need to be homeless to qualify.
Three VJO Specialists cover New Jersey:
Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union , Warren counties: Mark Correale on the Lyons Campus of the VA New Jersey Health Care System, NJ. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vet centers provide a wide-range of services. Often times they can screen and refer for medical issues, including traumatic brain injury and depression; make substance abuse assessments and referral, provide family counseling; employment assessment and referral; and VBA benefits explanation and referral. Vet centers are specifically geared towards veterans who have served in designated periods of hostilities. The list for New Jersey and the surrounding area can be found in DMAVA’s guide here.
Regional Benefit Offices: These offices can provide a large-range of non-medical services. New Jersey’s is located in Newark.
Non-VA eligible servicemembers: The New Jersey’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Department of Health’s guide may be helpful to find services that may be available to you. These services include community partners, such as non-profits. To use this guide effectively, we suggest you search by your county or the particular program service.
To be eligible for admission to the Veterans Diversion Program, a participant must be an Eligible Servicemember.
An eligible servicemember is defined as:
1) is a servicemember (veteran or currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, or a reserve component thereof, or the organized militia of the State of New Jersey pursuant to N.JS.A. 38A:1-3.)
2) has an eligible offense (Non-violent petty disorderly offenses, disorderly offenses, 3rd or 4th degree offenses), and
3) has a mental illness.
All three components must be present. The prosecutor has the sole discretion to determine if a person is qualified and admitted to the Veterans Diversion Program. N.J.S.A. 2C:43-26b. Notwithstanding that discretion, a participant cannot have any statutory disqualifiers. N.J.S.A. 2C:43-26.
The New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is recruiting mentors pursuant to P.L. 2017, c. 42. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please click here or copy and paste the below link into your web browser. You must be a former servicemember.