When Thank You Is Not Enough

A Justice for Vets Podcast

We say, “Thank you for your service.” We say we are “a grateful nation.” But what should we do when “thank you” isn’t enough?

Justice for Vets is the leading organization working to assist justice-involved veterans. Emphasizing resiliency and hope, we provide tangible solutions to address critical issues facing our veterans, such as justice involvement, substance use, and trauma.

Hosted by Major General (ret.) Clyde “Butch” Tate, each episode of this podcast takes you on a journey with veterans, subject matter experts, and people doing heroic work on behalf of those who have served.

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The Justice For Vets podcast is made possible with funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

The Power of Peer Support

“VA peer specialty comes from connecting them to VA services and doing warm handoffs to different programs within the VA. When a person wants to get treatment for PTSD, the VA peer can make the call and get the initial appointment set up and be there with them.”

Episode 3 kicks off a two-part series on peer support, starting with how the VA is expanding peer support to ensure justice-involved veterans have access to veterans with lived experience who provide individualized assistance connecting to VA services. Butch talks with the VA’s National Peer Services Coordinator Antonio Harris, LCSW, about the difference between VA peers and veteran mentors and the way in which both roles compliment each other and offer a more robust network of support and guidance to justice-involved veterans. Stay tuned for episode 4 which will dive into community peer support.

If you are a veteran in crisis please call the Veterans Crisis Line: Dial 988 and press 1

Click here for more on the VA peer support.

Click here for the VA peer support toolkit.

Veterans Justice Outreach

“At VA, healthcare comes with a very broad definition. So, healthcare isn’t just primary care or specialty medical care, it is those things. But it is also housing programs, employment support, mental health treatment, substance use disorder treatment. The intersection of criminal justice and healthcare is exactly the right place for us to be.”

In the first episode of season 2, Butch sits down with Katie Stewart, L.C.S.W., national coordinator of the Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) Program for a deep dive into the the many ways VJOs ensure that justice-involved veterans have access to the care, services, and other benefits they’ve earned. VJOs help maximize veterans’ potential for success and stability in the community, including by helping them avoid homelessness and ending their involvement in the justice system. The discussion includes an explanation of the Veterans Re-Entry Search Service, a vital resource for identifying justice-involved veterans and linking them with care.

If you are a veteran in crisis please call the Veterans Crisis Line: Dial 988 and press 1

Serving Those Who Served Us

“So our primary goal is to maintain peace in the community and to repair breaches of that piece. So when there’s an offense against an individual or an offense that threatens the community in any way, we go into problem solving mode and we try to do that in a just and fair way.”

Season 1 concludes with a discussion with Montgomery County, Texas First Assistant District Attorney Mike Holley. Mike talks about his philosophy as a prosecutor and why he believes veterans treatment court and other interventions for veterans are the honorable approach to serving those who served us.

What's Next? Expanding the justice system's support for veterans

“VTCs [veterans treatment courts] are critical to veterans because many of them I have found are ashamed that they are defendants in criminal courts. They have committed crimes against the very society they have sworn to protect, and it’s a long, hard fall from grace. These veterans really need our help.”

After seeing the success of Kansas’ only veterans treatment court, Kansas Chief Justice Lawton Nuss made the decision to retire early from the bench and devote his time to traveling the state and building support for more programs. In the penultimate episode of season 1, he and Butch discuss what led to this decision, his work to help jurisdictions in Kansas increase access to treatment for veterans, and why he believes these programs will continue to expand.

Leave No Veteran Behind Part 2

“These [veterans treatment court] mentors, it’s not the traditional mentor model…They’re just there to listen. I think we underplay the power of listening.”

Todd Kramer is living proof that the justice system can play a role in facilitating treatment and recovery. His story also exemplifies the therapeutic camaraderie that exists among those who serve. Todd served in both the Air Force and the Army and deployed as a 40 year old E5. When he came home he struggled to reengage and his addiction deepened. He found recovery and his purpose in veterans treatment court. In this gripping episode, hear his remarkable story and learn how volunteer mentors like Todd are the lifeblood of veterans treatment courts today.

Leave No Veteran Behind Part 1

“I would like to see a veterans treatment court in reach of every veteran that’s in need. Let us in the justice system be cognizant of the needs of the veteran. And if there’s something we can do to assist them in their journey, let us do that.”

S1E5 profiles a true hero of the veterans treatment court movement, retired Buffalo Judge Robert Russell. In 2008, Judge Russell forever transformed the way the justice system identifies, assesses, and treats veterans with a simple act of ingenuity and compassion. Here the story of how the first veterans treatment court came to be, how it spawned a system of programs serving over 15,000 veterans each year, and why it represents the most effective intervention for justice-involved veterans with substance use and mental health disorders.

If You Haven’t Been to the VA in the Last 10 Years, You Haven’t Been to the VA

“I tell all my buddies, if you tried VA 10 years ago like I did, try us again.”

Is the VA a waste of time? Can it really provide the services and care you need? John Boerstler, Chief Veterans Experience Officer at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, joins the podcast to share just how much the VA has expanded, evolved, and modernized post-9/11 to better listen to veterans and respond to meet their unique needs.

Could a Vet Center Be Right for Me?

“Vet Center’s current motto includes the three Cs: connection, camaraderie, and community.”

What are Vet Centers? How do they differ from VA hospitals and other VA services? S1E3 takes a deep dive into Vet Centers, looking at their origin, role, and unique approach to providing mental and behavioral health services to our nation’s veterans. This episode features Laura Felten, director of the Milwaukee Vet Center and former Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist.

Demystifying Therapy

“How do you pull a weed? You get it by its root, so it doesn’t grow back.”

S1E2 takes the conversation on trauma and post-traumatic growth to the next level and discusses mental health treatment, therapy, and trauma-informed resources to help veterans recover with James Puckett, a licensed professional counselor and professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin.

Detachment, Reconnection, and Post-Traumatic Growth

“It took one thing to be successful in combat; it takes something very different to be successful in my current life.”

S1E1 explores the effects of trauma and post-traumatic growth on our military veterans with guest Jaymes Poling, the creator of Modern Warrior LIVE, an immersive music and narrative experience that chronicles his journey through three U.S. Army deployments in Afghanistan and subsequent transition back home.