Connecticut Veterans Prison Release Program Offers Variety of Reintegration Services to Those with an Honorable Discharge
Date:  03-24-2015

Veterans with “Other than Honorable” discharge” classification are excluded from receiving “vital” services the program provides
Over the years, Reentry Central (RC) has reported about the special needs criminal-justice involved veterans have and efforts made to address them. The creation of court programs for veterans (RC September 9, 2010), the Senate hearing on employment for veterans with a criminal record (May 2, 2011), Veterans and the war on drugs (November 14, 2011), and veterans who served our country and who are now serving time in prison (November 11, 2014), are just some of the articles RC has published that focus on veterans and the services that fit their particular needs.

Many veterans return home suffering from PTSD and or drug abuse. Some veterans come back suffering with traumatic brain injuries. The mental health issues that plague those who serve in the military can lead to criminal behaviors while they are still in service to our country, or when they come home. Most veterans received an honorable discharge from the armed forces. However, some receive an “Other than Honorable” (OTH) classification, and while this classification doesn’t always prevent veterans from Veteran Administration (VA) services it can exclude them from a prison release program in Connecticut that is called “vital” for veterans. So why exclude those with an OTH discharge?

Those who were given an OTH discharge include men and women who are suffering from mental health and drug abuse issues that are a result of their of their experiences while serving in the military. The New Haven Register reports that there are 518 veterans in Connecticut prisons. Of that number 180 are eligible to participate in the veterans’ prison release program. Another 180 are ineligible, mostly because of OTH or dishonorable discharge classifications.

Veterans with an OTH discharge classification are advised by the veterans’ prison release program to seek a status upgrade when they get out of prison, a daunting venture even for those without mental health and substance abuse issues. Fortunately for Connecticut veterans with an OTH discharge, there is the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center that will provide legal assistance for free to veterans who wish to be reclassified. Another program, The Errera Community Care Center, provides “psychosocial rehabilitation” and “ serves veterans struggling with mental illness and/ or substance abuse disorders, homelessness, and/or aging.”

For veterans convicted of a sexual offense the Register reports there are only six beds available upon their release, and those beds are scattered between three homeless shelters across the state.

The veterans release program cannot assist those with an OTH discharge due to VA rules. For those male and female veterans who are eligible for the program, services such as helping to find safe and affordable housing, medical care and medications, and treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues are provided.

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