An estimated 90,000 veterans are released from America’s prisons each year. However, the veteran population involved in the criminal justice system have experiences unique to their service. In State prisons, a majority (54%) of the veteran population served during wartime and 20% saw combat. In Federal prison, these numbers increased to two-thirds of veterans having served during wartime and 25% having saw combat. On average, veterans are expected to serve 22 months longer than non veterans, meaning the likelihood of losing contact with support networks in the community is extremely high. Furthermore, 43% of veterans met DSM-IV criteria for alcohol dependence or abuse and drug abuse. A majority of veterans have also reported a recent mental health problem.
Although veterans involved in the criminal justice system may have qualities that are unique to their population, many of the barriers they face upon reentry are similar to non-veterans. Research suggests a strong link between incarceration and homelessness, which is further aggravated by the high rates of substance abuse and mental illness within this population. The aforementioned factors are likely to result in recidivism without proper intervention. More than half (52%) of former state prisoners are back behind bars within three years after their release, either as a result of a parole violation or because they have committed a new crime.
This cycle of recidivism produces many negative consequences. Households that are already fragile become overwhelmed, communities that are already struggling fall further behind, the lives of those who move in and out of prison are wasted, and the cost to taxpayers is enormous.
Without the development of effective approaches for reducing recidivism, the problem is certain to grow. The number of Americans behind bars has increased steadily and now includes more than 2.1 million men and women , of which 10% have reported prior service in the U.S. Armed Forces. Almost all of them will eventually be released, and, unless something changes, more than half of them will not be successful in reentering their communities and will return to prison.
Because transition whether it be from active-duty service or confinement to living in the community can be difficult, the Vet Help App Phone Program (VHAPP) provides supports that aid in the successful and safe transition of veterans from secure confinement back to their families and communities. The Vet Help App© is a vital link which allows formerly incarcerated veterans, veterans in the treatment courts, and homeless veterans, especially those in crisis mode, connect with counseling, mentors and community resources.
Recovering addicts and alcoholics often can feel despondent over difficulties in transitioning to citizenship, such as finding employment, housing or other barriers. Upon pressing the Vet Help App© button, they will have immediate access to a pool of on-call mentors that have been matched to meet the needs of the individual calling. All of our mentors have undergone a rigorous mentor-training course developed in conjunction with established veteran mentorship modules and long-serving veteran mentors as consultants and are available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, and 365 days per year. Mentors are available to assist that individual either via a person-to-person voice call or via text messaging. Additionally, Vet Help App© users will have the ability to contact our 24-hour Vet Help referral resource hotline.