Mission Direct Vet is a federally-funded court based jail diversion program with priority to veterans. Through a federally funded 5-year service grant 1, the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH), in partnership with investigators at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) and the Veterans Administration (VA), along with numerous state agencies, has developed Mission-Direct Vet 2. In November of 2009, MDV began accepting referrals for the pilot phase in Worcester and throughout Worcester County. A year later in November of 2010, MDV opened a second site based in the Lawrence District Court which accepts referrals from all over Essex County. Most recently, in July 2011, MDV opened a third site at Brockton District Court and is currently expanding throughout Plymouth County.

Basic Elements


The jail diversion component of the project seeks to provide services and treatment to veterans as an alternative to incarceration.


For 12 months individuals regularly meet with a treatment team to address mental health and substance abuse issues. Throughout the program a peer specialist and case manager work with the individual to connect them with additional services as needed. These services may include medical and mental health care, substance abuse treatment, veterans' services, vocational programs, transitional residence programs and family support.


  • a history of military service (conditions of discharge are not an issue),

  • current involvement with the criminal justice system (pending charges),

  • mental health problems,

  • alcohol and/or substance abuse difficulties,

  • able to receive and access services in one of our service delivery areas (Worcester, Essex or Plymouth County).


phone: 1-866-309-3359 (toll free)
email: mission.direct.vet@umassmed.edu

Key Personnel

  • Debra Pinals, MD, Principal Investigator
    Assistant Commissioner, Forensic Mental Health Services, DMH
  • David Smelson, PsyD
    Co-Principal Investigator, Professor & Vice Chair of Clinical Research, Department of Psychiatry, UMMS; Director of Translational Research, Edith Nourse Veterans Administration; Director of Co-Occurring Disorders, VA New England Health Care System (VISN 1)

1 Funding for this project was awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, United States Department of Health and Human Services (SM-58804): $2.1 million over five years.

2 MISSION-DIRECT VET stands for Maintaining Independence and Sobriety through Systems Integration, Outreach and Networking-Diversion and Recovery for Traumatized Veterans.