A Healthier Wisconsin

Impacting Veteran Health & Well-Being

Identifying and assisting veterans in the criminal justice system in Milwaukee County through a Veteran Treatment Initiative

Full Project Name:Implementing Systems Change to Impact Veteran Health & Well-beingPrimary Community Organization:Center for Veterans IssuesPrimary Academic Partner:Leslie Ruffalo, PhD, Family and Community MedicineAward Amount:$343,877
Award Date
Project Duration:36 months

Project Description Narrative:

The unique characteristics and experiences of veterans lead to a heightened risk for psychiatric, medical and social problems, making veterans an important population to consider for the development and adoption of policy-driven, research-based criminal justice interventions. Veteran-serving collaborators from diverse, integrated sectors of the community will develop and implement locally designed and informed policies to assist veterans involved in the criminal justice system in Milwaukee County leading to a revamped Veteran Treatment Initiative (VTI) with an expanded infrastructure aimed at reducing recidivism, increasing restitution paid, and reducing drug/alcohol use among veterans in Milwaukee County communities.

Community partners: Department of Corrections, Dryhootch of America, IMPACT, Law Enforcement Liaisons with the Milwaukee Police Department and DA investigator, Milwaukee County 1st Judicial District, Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office, Milwaukee Behavioral Health Department, State Public Defender/Private Defense Bar, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Zablocki VA Medical Center

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:

  • Fully established and integrated a veterans treatment court within the Milwaukee County criminal justice system, creating a streamlined referral and admission process for veterans by working with nine organizations in adopting changes in alignment with project efforts including a streamlined admission and formal application process that has been postively endorsed by all stakeholders, as well as implementation of a criminogenic risk needs assessment
  • Developed a Veterans Treatement Iniatitve (VTI) participant handbook to make the system easier to understand for participants as well as a policy and procedures manual to ensure quality ongoing operations
  • Engaged staff in risk needs assessment tool training, utilizing the ORAS training tool, and invited external partners to be trained
  • Conducted 13 community outreach events, reaching 1,480 community members with information about the Veterans Treatment Initiative (VTI) and engaging diverse stakeholders to collaborate and promote the use and recognition of the program
  • Documented outcomes of treatment court participation, showing that 92% of veterans receiving services did not re-offend as well as a reduction of more than 3,064 days in jail for program participants
  • Established a sustainable, ongoing volunteer peer mentor program

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8701 W Watertown Plank Road,
Milwaukee, WI 53226-0509
(414) 955-4350