Special Offenders Unit
Veterans Diversion Program (Pre & Post Arrest)
The Ocean County Prosecutors Office Veterans Diversion Program (hereinafter referred to as the VDP) accepted its first three candidates March 8, 2016. The VDP was created in response to the unmet needs of defendants with veteran status who were participants in the MHDP. It was determined that these individuals needed specialized treatment and supervision tailored to their military backgrounds. Defendants that are identified and verified as having veteran status are legally cleared by the program director then clinically evaluated to participate in the program. Participants should be county residents and be willing and able to engage in drug and/ or mental health treatment. Ocean Mental Health Services, as well as the VA provide evaluations, treatment and services for the VDP. Like the MHDP, we are in constant communication with Ocean Mental Health regarding the current and pending participants in the program. Defendants who successfully complete recommended treatment modules will receive a downgrade or dismissal of their charges. Veterans in the VDP are also assigned at least one volunteer veteran mentor to monitor their progress and to provide peer support for the length of the program. Similar to the MHDP, the individuals who completed are tracked for one year to monitor for recidivism.
Our Unit also began a new Veteran Pre-Arrest Program in collaboration with Ocean Mental Health Services (Phoenix Program). The goal is to engage veterans with treatment before they enter the criminal justice system, in an effort to prevent their involvement all together. If officers encounter a veteran who they feel could benefit from services, they will refer the veteran to Ocean Mental Health Services. If officers encounter the veteran for a criminal reason, they will contact the SOU and anAssistant Prosecutor will decide whether to charge the individual or not. If the individual is not charged, the veteran will have to engage in treatment and failure to comply will result in the veteran being charged. If the officers encounter a veteran and do charge, they will be referred for our Veteran Diversion Program (which is a post-arrest program).