Justice-Involved Veterans

Helping Incarcerated Veterans Come Home

Do you work with justice-involved veterans? These webinars will help you increase successful reentry for them.

Man with a rucksack walking a lonely road uphill

More than 180,000 of those incarcerated in the United States are men and women who have served in the military – nearly 5,000 of them in Illinois.

Incarceration uniquely affects the veteran population, because their VA benefits get interrupted or suspended.

More than half of justice-involved veterans have either mental health diagnoses – such as PTSD, depression, or anxiety – or substance-use disorder.

About 30% of incarcerated vets have experienced some form of homelessness – five times the national average.

A knowledge gap on veterans’ issues, culture, and needs among community providers can keep them from being effective in helping justice-involved veterans return to the community. Resources to help justice-involved individuals successfully reintegrate are limited, making a case manager’s job more difficult.

This free webinar series will help case managers and others who come in contact with incarcerated and returning veterans. Learn how you can build skills and tap into resources to support returning residents.

The Webinars: How to Better Serve Justice-Involved Veterans

  1. July 22 – Understanding and Connecting to Veterans – 10 am CDT  Eventbrite
  2. July 22 – Healthcare Resources for Justice-Involved Veterans – 11 am CDT  Eventbrite
  3. July 29 – Employment and Education Resources for Justice-Involved Veterans – 10 am CDT  Eventbrite
  4. August 5 – Veteran-Specific Housing Resources – 10 am CDT  Eventbrite
  5. August 12 – Veteran Justice Outreach Experts Answer Your Questions – 10 am CDT  Eventbrite

This Wednesday series will be streamed on Facebook Live and recorded for on-demand viewing.

Registration for CEU credits is now closed. SIGN UP to receive notifications of upcoming learning opportunities.

What You Will Gain from Attending

  • Learn how to screen for veterans – and why it matters
  • Understand how to connect them to VA healthcare, housing, and employment specialists
  • Find out about VA programs and services that can enhance case management for your veteran clients
  • Get details on exactly what needs to happen to ensure that VA benefits are reestablished as these veterans reenter civilian life
  • Gain insights on current and new resources for veterans

Who Should Attend?

Many people have the opportunity to improve a returning veteran’s chances of success. Are you one of them?

  • Case managers
  • Healthcare providers
  • Parole and probation
  • Criminal justice practitioners
  • Community leaders and organizations
  • You – if you work directly or indirectly with incarcerated veterans

Our Presenters

Kawryne Holmes, MSW. An Army veteran with 17+ years’ service and a director at Smart Policy Works, Kawryne manages the Women Veteran Healthcare Collaborative and other programs designed to educate community providers on best practices in serving those who have served. (July 22, August 12 and moderator)

Melissa Ornelas, LCSW. As the VA’s Health Care for Re-entry Veterans specialist for Illinois, Melissa assists incarcerated veterans at the Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center, three halfway houses, and parts of Wisconsin and Indiana, making sure they understand their eligibility for and get connected to health care benefits. (July 22)

Kevin L. Howell. As a VA justice-involved veterans outreach coordinator, Kevin helps incarcerated veterans prepare for release by showing them how to get connected to financial, educational, and employment benefits through the VA. (July 29)

Donald F. Donahue, LCSW. As clinical manager for the HUD-VASH housing program at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital, Donald helps homeless veterans find VA-supported housing solutions. (August 5)

Sergio V. Grajeda, PhD, LCSW, CADC, LSOE, LSOTP. A senior social worker on the VA’s Homeless Patient Aligned Care Team and a substance use disorder specialist, Sergio works with the Veterans Treatment Court Veteran Justice Outreach program, completing the mental health and substance use disorder assessments required as part of connecting veterans to services. (August 12)

Janika S. Walker, LCSW, LPHA. As a veterans justice outreach social worker at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, Janika works with justice-involved veterans in the circuit court of Cook County, serving as a liaison between the courts and the VA. (August 12)

Extended Materials

A resource guide will be posted here containing presentation materials, handouts and recordings that can be used by any advocate working with the incarcerated veteran population.


How to Help Vets Behind Bars

Engaging the Tangled Nature of Veterans’ Benefits

How To Improve Healthcare for Women Vets? First, You Have to Ask

A Vision: Proper Care for Women Vets

This project was made possible thanks to generous support of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.