August 2019
Spotlight
Bringing treatment court practitioners, providers, partners, and researchers together under one roof, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) hosted their 21 st annual RISE Conference  in National Harbor, MD, last month. In addition, Justice for Vets' 3 rd annual Vet Court Con was part of this conference and featured a two-day Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) mentor “boot camp." The boot camp was an opportunity for new and experienced VTC mentors alike to meet other veterans, learn and practice mentoring skills, and engage with experts.

Veteran mentors, however, weren’t the only VTC professionals to experience networking and learning opportunities. Vet Court Con also featured a complete session track focused solely on treatment methods and best practices in VTCs. The track featured more than sixty individual sessions and challenged researchers, clinicians, and practitioners to create better problem-solving courts for our nation’s veterans. Nearly twenty additional sessions were hosted jointly by both NADCP and Justice for Vets.

The Justice Programs Office (JPO) at American University attended the conference in full force. Our experts presented at ten different sessions on varying topics, such as VTCs, treatment court innovations, researcher-practitioner partnerships, data collection, rural treatment courts, and racial and ethnic disparities. In the Exhibition Hall, JPO staff disseminated resources , including relevant research, issue briefs, survey results, and copies of the Drug Court Review issue focusing on VTCs .

Additionally, JPO also collected dozens of veteran-related resources from other exhibitioners throughout the conference. In this issue of the VJMH, we wanted to bring those resources to you. Read on to see what we’ve compiled for you!
Graduate Research Fellow
Justice Programs Office, American University
Julie Baldwin, PhD
Associate Director of Research
Justice Programs Office, American University
Research
Andrea K. Finlay, Jim McGuire, Jennifer Bronson, and Shoba Sreenivasan
Among incarcerated males, veterans have 1.35 higher odds of being convicted of a sexual offense than non-veterans. Analyzing factors from more than 14,000 individuals, this study found that veterans with a history of sexual trauma were more likely to offend sexually, while veterans who were homeless or taking mental health medications at time of arrest were less likely.

Allison L. Rodriguez, Luisa Manfredi, Ava C. Wong, Andrea Nevedal, Christine Timko, Joel Rosenthal, and Daniel M. Blonigen
These researchers asked 63 Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists (VJOs) if a structured risk assessment would benefit their work. Responses indicated that such a tool would be valuable for triage, data collection, and quality improvement purposes. However, respondents had concerns regarding the interpretation of scores and the lack of time and resources to implement the tool.

Cassandra A. Atkin-Plunk and Lincoln B. Sloas
This study sampled 575 undergraduate students regarding their opinions on justice-involved veterans (JIVs). Public support was evident for using rehabilitative approaches with non-violent offenders but that a more “balanced” justice approach was favored for veterans convicted of violent offenses.

Caroline R. McKinnon and Jane T. Garvin
In a sample of 402 veterans, those with a mental health diagnosis were more likely to have an unhealthy weight in comparison to veterans without a mental health diagnosis. Having PTSD, substance misuse issues, anxiety, or other disorders was associated with achieving stated weight reduction goals. 
Practitioner Publications
Real Warriors
This one-page factsheet provides a “signs of crisis” checklist that can be used by family, friends, or clinicians concerned about servicemember or veteran mental health and behavior. The sheet also advises readers to “ask,” “listen,” and “get help” when there is concern about suicide or self-harm.

Real Warriors
This factsheet provides brief statistics on servicemembers and veterans who experience fatigue or poor sleep quality in their daily lives. It also includes five tips for maximizing sleep, including limiting screen time, keeping a sleep schedule, and strategic napping. Those struggling with severe sleep-related issues are urged to contact their primary physician for help. 
Multimedia Resources
(Webinars, Podcasts, Online Resources)
Justice for Vets and the PsychArmor Institute
These courses are for potential or practicing veterans treatment court mentors. Per Justice for Vets, four additional courses will be released in the first week of August, and two more will become available in the first week of September. Topics include mentor self-care, suicide awareness and prevention, boundaries, and trauma-informed services.

National Center for Telehealth and Technology
This app allows users to rate their daily symptoms of anxiety, depression, general well-being, traumatic brain injury, posttraumatic stress, and general stress. Users can track patterns over time through graphs and reports and even connect their app to a FitBit device to track how their exercise patterns affect their mental health symptoms.

National Center for Telehealth and Technology
Breathe2Relax teaches users to use diaphragmatic breathing as a method for reducing stress and high heart rates. The app allows users to personalize background music, relaxing photos, and other features and also offers general wellness tips. Users can connect the app to their smart watches to better track in heart rate. 
Policy
This act extends the VA’s coverage of disabilities/health issues associated with Agent Orange in Vietnam to include veterans who served within 12 nautical miles of the Vietnamese shoreline. Known as “blue water” veterans, these veterans have historically been denied coverage and care for health issues caused by Agent Orange.

Texas House Bill 4429 Enacted June 14, 2019
This bill mandates that veterans’ mental health programs not only provide “mental first aid” training to service providers, but also to the families of veterans and veterans themselves. Programs are required to report the number of families and veterans trained.

Texas Senate Bill 2104 Enacted June 10, 2019
This amendment establishes the Texas Veterans County Service Officer Task Force for the purpose of engaging with rural Texas veterans. The amendment also requires the Texas Veterans Commission to create grants that support pro bono legal services for JIVs in the state.

Texas Senate Bill 601 Enacted June 10, 2019
This legislation extends the sunset date of the Texas Veterans Commission from 2019 to 2031. Additional changes to staffing requirements and the Commission’s oversight of Texas’s VA system are also included among the amendments.

Texas Senate Bill 562 Enacted June 14, 2019
This amendment allows for the establishment of regional mental health courts in Texas. Additional changes have been made to procedures regarding the expunction of records for successful graduates of mental health courts and to the courts’ interactions with other mental health facilities in the state.

Nevada Assembly Bill 236 Enacted June 17, 2019
This act allows for district, justice, and municipal courts in Nevada to establish treatment programs for JIVs. While the act does not use the term “veterans treatment courts,” these programs are required to treat service-related mental health diagnoses, substance abuse issues, and military sexual trauma and to serve any other veterans who might benefit from such a program.

Missouri House Bill 547 Enacted July 9, 2019
This bill amends previous legislation to require that each judicial circuit in Missouri establishes a treatment court before August 28, 2021. Circuits may establish a VTC to fulfill this requirement, and further instructions are given for those that choose to do so.

Florida House Bill 501 Enacted June 27, 2019
This act requires Florida’s Department of Veterans Affairs to contract with a university or college for the purpose of providing alternative treatments to veterans suffering from PTSD and/or TBI. Possible therapies include accelerated resolution therapy, equine therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, music therapy, and service animal training therapy.

Connecticut Senate Bill 861 Enacted June 26, 2019
This act defines a veteran as “any person honorably discharged from, or released under honorable conditions from active service in, the armed forces.” Veterans are considered to have “served in time of war” only if they served 90 consecutive days in a conflict zone or qualify for an exception to this rule. 
In the News
Events Calendar

August 2, 2019 - LaPorte, IN
August 3, 2019 - Solomon, AZ
August 8, 2019 - Allegan, MI
August 9, 2019 - Kingston, NY
August 9 - 10, 2019 - McClellan, CA
August 10, 2019 - Fairbanks, AK
August 15, 2019 - Tucson, AZ
August 16, 2019 - Dayton, OH
August 16, 2019 - Minneapolis, MN
August 16, 2019 - North Bend, OR
August 17, 2019 - Richton Park, IL
August 17, 2019 - Salt River, AZ
August 21 - 23, 2019 - Marysville, CA
August 21, 2019 - Nashville, TN
August 22, 2019 - Fayetteville, NC
August 22, 2019 - Hillsboro, OR
August 22, 2019 - International Falls, MN
August 23, 2019 - Duluth, MN
August 23, 2019 - Jackson, MS
August 24, 2019 - Helena, MT
August 24, 2019 - Whiteriver, AZ
August 29, 2019 - Fairmont, WV
August 31, 2019 - Honolulu, HI
Contribute to the Next Issue
To submit content for the next issue of this newsletter, please email ndcrc@american.edu with "Veterans’ Justice and Mental Health Newsletter” in the subject line.
Our mission is to inform policy, practice, and scholarship through the distribution of current veterans treatment court-related resources.   
The  National Drug Court Resource, Policy, and Evidence-Based Practice Center , funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and operated by the Justice Programs Office (JPO) at American University, strives to provide practitioners and professionals working in the drug court field with current resources and upcoming events.  Please email  ndcrc@american.edu  with any inquiries.
National Drug Court Resource Center | Justice Programs Office
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