Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian announced that the Middlesex Sheriff's Office has entered into a partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Massachusetts Department of Veterans” Services. This first-in-the-nation agreement is intended tobetter identify veterans in its custody and provide targeted outreach.
Sheriff Koutoujian made the announcement July 17 at Billerica's Vietnam Veterans Park where he was joined by Michael Galloucis, executive director of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs” Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs (OPIA) and Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans” Services Coleman Nee.
“I am proud to announce we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the VA New England Healthcare System and our own Massachusetts Department of Veterans” Services to better identify veterans in our custody in an effort to educate them about programs and services available to them prior to their release date,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “With this new initiative government on all levels will be working together to address the needs of veterans while incarcerated and upon reentry back in the community.”
Reentry specialists from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs” Healthcare for Reentry Veterans Program and peer specialists from the Department of Veterans” Services will coordinate aftercare planning tailored to the specific needs of each individual, including referrals for housing, substance abuse counseling, mental health services and employment counseling.
“Massachusetts is the national leader in providing comprehensive veterans’ services for many reasons, but none more so than the strong collaborations we have made to maximize our resources and provide world-class, comprehensive benefits to our veterans and their families,” said Secretary Nee. “Identifying veterans and providing the knowledge and access to resources is one of the most difficult tasks. This partnership is the perfect example of state and federal resources working together to ensure we’re serving a vulnerable veterans population.”
As a result of this initiative, the VA and the Middlesex Sheriff's Office were immediately able to identify 44 Veterans in custody who did not appear in previous counts. All veterans in the custody of the Middlesex Sheriff's Office will now have access to the full range of services provided through the VA New England Healthcare System and the Department of Veterans” Services.