Urban Justice Center / Veteran Advocacy Project
December 2018 - January 2020
While many veterans reintegrate into civilian life without major problems, others have difficulties that bring them into contact with the justice system.
Compared with similar individuals in the general population, veterans are 8 times more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 2–4 times more likely to have major depression. Several studies have shown an increased risk of criminal behavior for veterans with substance use issues, PTSD, and depression. About 5% of people under New York State custody are veterans, and approximately 3,000 per year cycle through Rikers Island, New York City’s main jail. Because of inadequate veteran-specific outreach, incarcerated veterans are often unaware that they can apply for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) services while incarcerated. They also lack knowledge about other benefits they are eligible for and the process to access those benefits.
In 2018, NYSHealth awarded the Urban Justice Center’s Veteran Advocacy Project (VAP) a grant to address the health and legal needs of justice-involved veterans at Rikers Island.