January 2019
Spotlight
This month’s spotlight focuses on mentoring, which is both a powerful tool within the veteran community and the national topic throughout January. If you have heard the terms “veteran to veteran” or “veteran peer,” you have heard of veteran mentorship.
 
Within the veteran community, mentoring occurs in a variety of forms from informal to formal. Types of veteran-to-veteran mentorship that I am very familiar with are within the contexts of the veterans treatment court (VTC) and suicide prevention efforts. My work examines the operation and impact of mentorship in these areas and seeks to inform and improve their implementation. Currently, we know that the majority of VTC programs have some form of mentoring component, but these vary widely in their structure and operation and face implementation challenges. We also know that strong mentorship in this community is built on the comradery established through veterans’ military experience, including training, and is a valuable tool with much potential to contribute to positive outcomes. However, more work needs to be done in these areas to provide practical tools and resources to programs and communities.
 
In this issue’s Practitioner Resources and Multimedia Resources, you will find a variety of publications, examples, and videos related to mentorship in VTCs. Additionally, there is an article on an in-depth examination of mentoring in a VTC available in the upcoming issue of Drug Court Review that will be released next month. We’ll be sure to include it in next month’s VJMH newsletter. As always, please continue to share your resources and information with us for inclusion in the VJMH newsletter.
 
Dr. Julie Baldwin
Associate Director of Research
Justice Programs Office, American University

Research
Eric Wesselman, Dan Ispas, Mark Olson, Mark Swerdlik, and Natasha Caudle
This study suggests that a veteran’s perceived ostracism from his/her community is linked to deployment stress and mental health concerns of the individual veteran. The authors posited that this perceived ostracism exacerbated veterans’ PTSD symptoms and that the degree of perceived ostracism further explained additional variance in these symptoms.

Sean Phelan, Lauren Bangerter, Greta Friedermann-Sanchez, Kandace Lackore, Megan Morris, Courtney Van Houtven, Kathleen Carlson, Michelle van Ryn, Kristin Harden, and Joan Griffin
In a sample of nearly 600 caregivers responsible for a veteran with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), the authors found that higher levels of stigma from local communities against such an injury were associated with “strain, depression, anxiety, loneliness, lower self-esteem” for both the caregiver and the veteran. Veterans also faced reduced community integration because of this perceived stigma.

Harold Koenig, Kerry Haynes, Zachary Erikson, Irina Arnold, Keisha O-Garo, Michelle Pearce, John Oliver, Donna Ames, Nagy Youssef, Fred Volk, and Ellen Teng
These researchers used a randomized sample of 427 veterans and active duty servicemembers to develop a short version of the Moral Injury Symptom Scale – Military Version (MISS-M). They identified the highest loading question for each of the ten MISS-M scales to develop and test a ten-item short form (MISS-M-SF).
 
Sarah Martindale, Erica Epstein, Katherine Taber, and Jared Rowland
These researchers examined the effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) in a sample of over 1,300 veterans and servicemembers. They found that TBIs sustained during deployment were more typically associated with a greater prevalence of behavioral and health problems, substance abuse, sleep problems, and alcohol abuse than were TBIs sustained by veterans outside of deployment.

Peter Barglow
This article compares three strategies for reducing opioid abuse in the veteran population: demand reduction (educating patients about opioid abuse risks), supply reduction (limiting the amount of opioids available to patients), and harm reduction (engaging patients in medically-assisted treatment). The author asserts that demand reduction would not prevent substance abuse and that, while supply reduction could decrease mortality rates, it may not be successful among prison inmates or Medicare patients. Harm reduction techniques and medications were deemed to be the safest and most effective method of preventing opioid abuse among veterans.
Practitioner Publications: Mentoring
This training manual includes information for new mentors, helpful explanations of common difficulties faced by offenders with a history of military service (such as depression, PTSD, Suicide, Domestic Violence, and Substance Use), and sample documents, including a Goal Setting Contract, a Progress Report Form, and a Mentoring Time Sheet.
 
This sample mentor application form provides examples of the types of questions a program might find useful or a mentor coordinator might be interested in asking volunteer recruitment and acceptance. Additional items might include questions about the hobbies and interests as other ways to find common ground.
 
The Buffalo Veterans Court offers a list of resources at the end of this link. For example, the Veterans Mentor Log illustrates a way to keep track of a mentor’s meetings with his/her mentees. It also offers a way for mentors to track a mentee’s basic information, which is especially useful for mentors with multiple mentees.
 
This resource is an example of a one-page mentor agreement between the court or non-profit organization and the volunteer mentor. It may also be helpful to include a legal clause about not holding the court or non-profit liable for any injury occurring while volunteering as a mentor.
Multimedia Resources
(Webinars, Podcasts, Online Resources)
Justice for Vets
This brief video describes the experiences of veterans suffering from PTSD who have entered the criminal justice system. Inspirational interview clips are accompanied by the staggering facts of veteran suicide, criminal justice issues, and mental health concerns. As a solution, the video promotes VTCs and discusses the treatment VTCs provide and how veteran mentors play key roles in contributing to this process.
 
Buncombe County Veterans Treatment Court
In this video, Kevin Rumley (the coordinator of the Buncombe County Veterans Treatment Court) talks about the specific roles and contributions of veteran mentors and peer support in the VTC context. He zeroes in on methods that mentors can use to better “encourage, engage, and empower” their mentees in the VTC.

Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
This PDF provides a full list of all DAV career fairs to be held across the country in 2019. Virtual career fairs are included along with physical career fairs in many different states.

NAADAC – The Association for Addiction Professionals
This live webinar, hosted by Richard Choate, will help clinicians return to the basics of Motivational Interviewing (MI) and learn how to use MI methods to effectively engage with clients suffering from comorbid disorders. This webinar will also demonstrate techniques to help clients overcome their resistance and other barriers to recovery.
 
NAADAC – The Association for Addiction Professionals
Guided by Dr. Holly Hagle, this webinar will discuss the benefits and importance of receiving Technical Assistance (TA) in your program or for providers in your community. Specific attention will be given to how TA works and to how the State Targeted Response – Technical Assistance Consortium can be of assistance to providers and programs.
Policy
Enacted on December 31, 2018, this Act ensures greater access to dental care for veterans and orders a study to be completed on barriers to the effective transitioning of servicemembers. It also ensures multiple civil relief services for veterans, servicemembers, and their families and creates additional adaptions from the VA in terms of the GI Bill and housing assistance.           
 
Enacted on January 3, 2019, this law requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that veterans have access to their GI Bills for life and abolishes the 15-year time limit. The Act also requires the VA to make good on the delayed benefits payments due to military and veteran families as a result of computer and data issues that occurred in 2017.
In the News
Events Calendar
Make Plans! Upcoming Events Notice

July 14 - 17 – National Harbor, MD: Justice For Vets Veteran Mentor Boot Camp

January and February Events

Present - February 6 – Mesa, AZ: Homeless Veterans Toiletry Drive
February 1 – Jacksonville, NC: Mental Health First Aid – Veterans
February 2 – Miami, FL: Health and Wellness Fair (FDVA)
February 7 – Glendale, AZ: Phoenix Veterans Job Fair
February 9 – Carlton, MN: Women Veterans Event – Love Yourself
February 12 – Washington, DC: VA Mental Health Virtual Career Fair
February 15 - 18 – Lake City, CO: Lake City Ice Climbing
February 21 – Baltimore, MD: Baltimore Veterans Job Fair
February 24 - February 27 – Arlington, VA: DAV 2019 Mid-Winter Conference
February 28 – San Diego, CA: San Diego Veterans Job Fair

February 2, 2019 – Fort Myers, FL
February 8 - 11, 2019 – Vista, CA
February 15 - 17, 2019 – Harrisburg, PA
February 21, 2019 – Gainesville, FL
February 22, 2019 – New Bern, NC
February 23, 2019 – Milwaukee, WI
February 26, 2019 – Rochester, NY
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.
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