HHS Secretary John Polanowicz Meets with Veterans in Support of Mental Health Jail Diversion Services
Secretary discusses Governor’s growth agenda and investments in important mental health services for veterans
WORCESTER — Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz today met with veterans at the Department of Mental Health (DMH) MISSION Direct Vet program in Worcester and led a roundtable discussion with stakeholders on jail diversion efforts for veterans. The MISSION Direct Vet partnership provides court-based diversionary services to veterans with mental health, substance use and trauma histories who become involved in the criminal justice system at the Worcester District Court.
“The Patrick-Murray Administration is committed to helping veterans overcome the challenges they frequently face upon return from duty,” said Secretary Polanowicz. “The Governor’s growth agenda continues our strong investment in programs like MISSION Direct Vet to help our veterans with mental health and substance abuse needs obtain treatment.”
The MISSION Direct Vet program was developed through a $2 million Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant awarded to DMH in 2008 in collaboration with UMass Medical School and the U.S. Veterans Administration which provided the opportunity to develop court-based diversionary services to veterans with mental health, substance use and trauma histories who become involved in the criminal justice system.
Governor Patrick’s budget invests $500,000 to allow DMH to continue diversionary services for veterans with mental health conditions and substance abuse challenges.
“The MISSION Direct Vet model is a critical piece of DMH’s jail diversion programs,” said DMH Commissioner Marcia Fowler. “We are grateful to Judge Paul LoConto and our partners at the Worcester District Court and all the many providers and collaborators who make this program a success for many returning veterans.”
"The MISSION Direct Vet program has enabled the court to identify those returning veterans who appear in our criminal courts in need of individualized services in order to address mental health and substance abuse issues, and provide the specialized treatment with the goal of diverting them from incarceration,” said Massachusetts District Court interim Chief Justice Paul LoConto. “The Worcester District Court is privileged to be part of this worthwhile program."
The MISSION model consists of a case manager and peer team in partnership with probation to support a veteran in the community with wrap around services targeting co-occurring disorders as an alternative to incarceration. Massachusetts was one of 13 states awarded grant funding for this model.
MISSION Direct Vet operates through a partnership that crosses 19 agencies and entities, including the District Court, Probation, the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services and District Attorney’s offices.
The Governor’s budget invests $5M in public health safety programs that will increase mental health access and expand law enforcement collaboration through crisis intervention efforts.
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