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Resolution

Advocacy for Veterans Justice Resources with Cases in Family and Children’s Court/Dependency Court

WHEREAS, The Veterans Treatment Courts provide wrap-around social services, a liaison, and case managers for veterans but only assist veterans that have a criminal charge in combination with a substance abuse problem or a mental health challenge; and

WHEREAS, Many military families and veterans have complained that officers and representatives of the Family and Children's courts are not familiar with circumstances surrounding military personnel and ultimately treat veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or service-connected injuries the same as convicted criminals although there are no criminal charges; and

WHEREAS, Veterans in Family Law Court do not have that same wrap-around support services because they do not fall within the 1170.9 Penal Code Decision Map which provide judicial officers with the option of sentencing military veterans to treatment instead of prison or jail if they have been convicted of certain classes of crimes, as long as the court finds that the defendant may be suffering from sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, substance abuse, or mental health problems as a result of their service in the United States military; and

WHEREAS, Veterans should not have to commit a crime to receive wrap-around social and medical service support as they too are Justice-Involved and in need of support; and

WHEREAS, Unemployed veterans with cases in Family Law court are required to report their VA Compensation as income thereby becoming ineligible for legal aid and causing veterans to pay attorney fees in Family Law court plus all other associated court costs which leads to increased financial ruin, homelessness, and family separation; and

WHEREAS, This is a national issue among veterans as documented in the Women Veterans Report titled "Women Veterans: The Journey Ahead" by Sigma Health Consulting showing that the highest unmet need among women veterans was Family Reconciliation and the risk of youth protection services getting involved and losing custody of their; and

WHEREAS, Veterans with limited income or the only income is United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Disability Compensation must decide to pay various court costs to fight for their children or pay rent as they are unable to do both. These stresses and other social determinants directly correlate to increasing rates of veteran suicide and homelessness. 13,564 veterans are homeless, and the suicide rate for veterans in 2020 was 57.3 % greater than for non-veteran adults. (source: National Veterans Suicide Prevention Annual Report 2022); and

WHEREAS, The mission of the Veterans Justice Outreach Programs is to identify JusticeInvolved Veterans and contact them through outreach to facilitate access to VA services at the earliest possible point by building and maintaining partnerships between the VA and key elements of the justice system; and

WHEREAS, Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists at every VA medical center have provided outreach to Justice-Involved Veterans in various settings, including jails and courts in over 600 Veterans Treatment Courts and other Veteran-focused court programs across the U.S except Family Law Court where veterans do not have a criminal charge nor conviction.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the NAACP will work to support amendments to this program to allow veterans that have not committed a crime to qualify for assistance with Family 2023 RESOLUTIONS 69 Reconciliation in Family Law court and provide the same wrap-around support as those charged with a crime.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP work with the US Congress, the Department of Defense and the White House to advocate for the expansion of the Veterans Justice Outreach Program to include Justice Involved Veterans that do not have criminal charges pending but are still in need of the same assistance in Civil Courts, such as in the Family Law court and Children's Court.

Derrick Lewis - Youth & College Hero

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