CVJP College Veteran Resource Centers Pilot Project
Community Veteran Justice Project
CVJP would like support to expand to college Veteran Resource Centers (VRCs) covering LA County. This expansion would allow veteran work-study students to become CVJ workers at individual VRCs, increasing staff to provide supervision and perform follow-up on cases. CVJP will be able to intervene with more vets and connect them with comprehensive services across LA County that allow them to seek college, entrepreneurship, home buying, healthy families, and overall wellness opportunities.
What does your organization do?
CVJP helps military and veterans get alternative sentencing and diversion, by setting them up with mental health treatment for their underlying conditions and connecting them with essential services.
Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.
What inspired CVJP’s creation was the knowledge that the CA veteran criminal statutes were not being used. Instead, the Veteran Treatment Court (VTC) model, which was very restrictive and did not help the vast majority of military veterans was being used. In LA, there were only five VTCs. CVJP was created to address this limitation, fill the gap, and inform that the statutes can turn any criminal courtroom into a VTC that serves this board population better. We are able to serve all military/veteran personnel intervening as soon as their initial arrest, seeking alternative sentencing/sealed records for felonies (PC 1170.9), diversion/case dismissal for misdemeanors (PC 1001.80), in all 24 courthouses across LA County & connecting them to vital services.
Since our initial creation in October 2017, CVJP has amassed over 350 cases. Each of our clients is unique, but most share common themes, and they deal with similar hardships on a daily basis. For instance, Mark W., a Lt. Colonel in the US Army who was also an emergency room doctor, came to CVJP with a criminal charge and a suspended medical license. Mark had grown up in South Central LA and had pushed himself so hard to become a doctor and Lt. Colonel. However, Mark’s two deployments had left him with a severe case of PTSD, and upon knowledge of an upcoming third deployment, his anxiety and stress got the best of him. He ended up vandalizing his wife’s car in a fit of rage, ultimately being awarded an “other than honorable” (OTH) discharge, and got his medical license suspended. These events followed him for years and resulted in Mark living off of food stamps, and unable to practice medicine. No entity would help him.
After CVJP was introduced to Mark’s case, our organization worked with him one-on-one, arranging for a discharge upgrade, and was able to get his medical license reinstated. Mark is now well on the road to getting his life back on track. He is getting the mental health support he needs and is active in his church and community. He is also working full time, in a healthy, loving relationship and has strong bonds with his children. Mark greatly appreciates all the work CVJP has done for him and is an active supporter to this day.
Which of the live metrics will your submission impact?
- Rates of mental illness
- Resilient communities
- Residents receiving coordinated healthcare services
Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?
- LA is the best place to LEARN
- LA is the best place to CREATE
- LA is the best place to PLAY
- LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- County of Los Angeles
How will your project make LA the best place to live?
CVJP will implement the VRC pilot project within Region 7 colleges by coordinating with VRC Directors and designated VA work-study students who will become CVJ workers at their individual VRCs. We will utilize live webinar training, site-specific internal protocols, as well as provide necessary materials, supervision for all VRC work, and handle all follow-up/tracking. In coordination with the VRCs, we will conduct a coordinated outreach campaign to ensure all their veterans students know about our services.
This capacity building and outreach effort will dramatically increase our organization’s caseload, and require us to hire a full-time Staff Attorney and part-time Project Coordinator (PC). Having a Staff Attorney will allow CVJP the ability to recruit law clerks, who can then help supervise the increased caseload. Our PC will coordinate the implementation of the VRC pilot project. Both staff members will help implement our Strategic Funding Plan, as well as our Development Growth Program to ensure that both the project and the positions will be sustainable.
CVJP aims to serve all military members, past and present. This includes active-duty military, reservists, National Guard, and veterans of all discharge statuses. The VRC pilot project will be key in connecting with our youngest veterans (Iraq and Afghanistan), arguably those who need it most of all, due to their multiple tours of combat. Unfortunately, this population has extreme apprehension when it comes to admitting they may be suffering from mental illness. By informing these clients about the CA vet criminal statutes’ mental health treatment requirement, we provide a catalyst that inspires them to finally seek the help they need, changing their life’s trajectory.
CVJP aims to begin training VRC work-study students by the end of April 2019. We are currently discussing with the Directors how to devise an implementation plan that will partner with the colleges on a semester by semester basis, working around student schedules.
CVJP is looking to make measurable progress by expanding our ability to intervene and provide one-on-one support with as many military and veteran clients as possible. The primary way that we will measure progress with this pilot project is by tracking the VRCs that are added to act as physical sites for CVJ workers. We can also track the added quantity of clients that are brought in by these VRCs. CVJP can track the added events, presentations, training & funds that each new staff member contributes, to get a measurable reading of how much our organization’s growth has been increased. Each of these measures allows more military veterans to get all the services they need, as well as help them achieve alternative sentencing, diversion, and dismissal of criminal cases. CVJP is helping our clients get their lives and their families lives on track to thrive, live well and prosper, and thus will help Los Angeles become the best place to LIVE.
In what stage of innovation is this project?
Pilot project (testing a new idea on a small scale to prove feasibility)
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
At CVJP we define and measure success with a number of different metrics. First, we define success by the number of veteran cases we are able to take on, and how many staff we have on our team to assist these clients. In the upcoming year with this project, this metric will be measured with: how many college VRCs we are able to successfully implement the CVJ project at, the increase in number of cases from each VRC site, the increase in the number of clients who successfully obtain either diversion or alternative sentencing (showing how successful we are in helping our clients meet the California veteran statutes), the increase in total number of services we are able to connect our clients with, and the increase in CVJP staff that is able to be sufficiently trained to do more sophisticated follow up work on cases.
We will also be defining success based on the increase in CVJP’s visibility, notoriety, and reputation. Primarily, this is because the more well-known CVJP becomes, the more well known the California veteran criminal statutes will become, and eventually the more veterans that will be helped. This metric will be measured with: the ability to attend/be invited to more events and presentations, the number of articles published either by CVJP staff or mentioning CVJP, news events focusing on CVJP projects, and all various means of media publication mentioning CVJP (e.g., social media, print, TV, radio). In addition, we would also measure this area to be successful, if there is a consistent increase in the number of testimonials from clients and defense attorneys that may be added to our organization’s website.
How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?
- Host public events on the topic your organization’s issue area (e.g. access to capital, education reform, clean energy, etc.)
- Communications support, including traditional media, social media, and LA2050 newsletter
- Capacity, including staff
- Strategy assistance and implementation
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