MAYS LANDING- On Thursday, Nov. 2, 2020, 4 participants of the Veterans Diversion Program graduated from the program. This graduation was the recognition of their terms of enrollment (which can be anywhere from 1-2 years) were completed with no additional criminal charges and that all 4 participants complied with all treatment recommendations. Treatment recommendations may include inpatient or outpatient treatment for substance abuse, mental health and more. Service providers from Jewish Family Services also assist. Those recommendations come from the Veteran’s Administration after an evaluation by John Walter, LCSW, Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist of Wilmington VAMC, serving Southern NJ.
The charges of these 4 participants– all third- and fourth- degree offenses—are now dismissed.
“The Veterans’ community has such a variety of needs when they are discharged from their service. Oftentimes, some veterans will commit minor offenses that are related to undiagnosed trauma/illness that they may have obtained while protecting our freedom. The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office is committed to helping them get the treatment that they need, rather than incarceration, so long as they remain committed to their recovery,” Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner said.
On Nov. 2, approximately 14 current enrollees logged onto Zoom for VDP, which occurs monthly and is presided over by Judge DeLury.
The remainder participated with brief status checks where the VA reported on their progress and compliance and the participant him/herself was asked to share insights about their thoughts and progress.
ACPO also enlists mentors who participate in the session as well. They are linked with particular vets to help shepherd them through the process. The ACPO VDP is currently in need of more veterans to volunteer for the role of mentor. Please contact ACPO Chief Assistant Prosecutor Rick McKelvey at (609) 909-7797 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Under the VDP, eligible veterans who are charged with certain qualifying crimes may be eligible for diversion to rehabilitative treatment in lieu of the traditional criminal justice process. The program involves intensive supervision and monitoring of a veteran’s treatment by an applicable treatment provider, the Veterans Administration (VA), this Office, and a volunteer mentor assigned to support the veteran. Participants must meet all diversion requirements to remain in the VDP, and the program must be successfully completed within two years from the date of diversion. Veterans admitted into the program are expected to regularly attend counseling and, where applicable, receive mental health or substance abuse treatment in accordance with VDP conditions. A veteran who successfully completes the terms and conditions of this program to the satisfaction of the prosecutor, has not been the subject of any subsequent criminal charges and continues to make progress with mental health and/or substance abuse treatment shall have his/her charges dismissed.
To be eligible for the VDP, the applicant must be an Active (to include Reserve and National Guard servicemembers) or former member of the United States armed forces and the charges must have some causal relation to their military service. The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office retains sole discretion over who is admitted into the VDP. Veterans charged with more serious, violent crimes will not be deemed eligible for VDP participation.
How to Apply:
Attorneys who believe their clients may qualify for this program should complete the Application form, Referral form, Medical Release form, and VA Form 10-5345. These forms are available through the links below. The forms may be completed online and saved to your computer by selecting “File/Save As.” The completed .pdf forms should then be emailed to Chief Assistant Prosecutor Rick McKelvey at email@example.com.
For further information regarding the program please click on the “Prosecutor Directive” link and/or the “FAQ” link below. Questions not answered by those links can be directed to Chief Assistant Prosecutor Rick McKelvey (609) 909-7797 or by email to the link above.
Anyone with information involving serious crimes is asked to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-909-7800 or go to the Prosecutor’s Office Web site at http://www.acpo.org/tips.html and provide information by filling out the form anonymously on the Submit a Tip page. People can also call Crime Stoppers at 609-652-1234 or 1-800-658-8477(TIPS) or visit the Crime Stoppers Website at http://www.crimestoppersatlantic.com/. Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those who commit crimes in Atlantic County.