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Incarcerated Veteran Project

San Bernardino County, CA
Program Year: 2018

In May, 2016, San Bernardino County Veterans Affairs (County VA) Director Frank Guevara went to California Institution for Men in Chino to speak to incarcerated veterans regarding Federal VA benefits and County VA services. He offered veterans professional assistance with VA claims and benefits information if they would write to him with a description of their needs. This visit led to the formation of the Incarcerated Veterans Program. Now, Director Guevara visits facilities quarterly and letters received from incarcerated veterans are distributed to newly-hired or junior case management staff who discern, with supervisor oversight, the inmates’ needs and prepare responses. Return correspondence is reviewed by supervision prior to being signed by the Director. The purposes of this program are twofold: 1) provide underserved veterans in custody much needed support from professional veteran advocates regardless of reasons for incarceration or types of assistance needed, and 2) teach newly-hired staff how to research veteran law and actively manage veteran cases in preparation for their accreditation examination and prior to acquiring and honing in-person interview techniques. To date, more than 80 inmates in 14 correctional facilities are being helped with compensation claims, information on benefits, apportionments, and other requests, while six employees have had their training enhanced by working on the Incarcerated Veteran Program.

Ms. Sally Gibson
Executive Secretary, Veterans Affairs Department