Veterans Sought To Serve as Diversion Program Peer Mentors

The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office Veterans Diversion Program (VDP) is designed to assist individuals who have served in the U.S. Military and now have come into contact with the criminal justice system. If an individual is accepted into and successfully completes the program, it is possible for the individual to avoid a criminal conviction.

The goal of the program is to reduce veteran contacts with the criminal justice system, reduce the number of incarcerated veterans, reduce the costs to the public and provide services and support for veterans. Oftentimes it used to assist veterans who find themselves falling victim to substance abuse and becoming involved in criminal activities. Additionally, the program is meant to help veterans whose behavior may be caused by post traumatic stress disorder, mental health issues, traumatic brain injuries and other physical injuries that are a result of their time in the service.

VDP is a partnership between the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office, local law enforcement agencies, veteran’s administrators, state and county agencies, volunteers, community based organizations and medical treatment facilities to assist veterans in the criminal justice system. A vital component of the VDP is to provide such veterans with as much assistance and support as possible in order to for them to have the best chance of being successful.

For this reason, the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office is actively seeking additional peer mentors to support program eligible service members through the criminal justice system while also assisting in their individual treatment plans.

A mentor is intended to encourage, guide, and support the veteran mentee. Mentors should be good listeners and be willing to spend the time necessary to understand the concerns of the veteran mentee. Mentors do not need a legal background or experience, just a desire to help a fellow veteran. Generally, mentors are expected to make weekly contact with their assigned veteran through a phone call or an in-person meeting. Mentors must be a veteran of one of the branches of the U.S. Military, including the Marine Corps, Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, or their corresponding Reserve or Guard branches. Training for mentors will be provided. Individuals who wish to volunteer as a mentor must complete an application, a background check and submit their DD214 verifying an honorable discharge or proof of being on active duty.

To apply to be a mentor, visit the State of New Jersey Department of Military and Veteran Affairs Website using the following link: nj.gov/military/veterans/diversion program#intro and complete the online application. A representative from the New Jersey Department of Military and Veteran Affairs (DMAVA) will reach out to you with training information, including the date, time, and location (virtual or in-person).

DMAVA hopes to have a mentor training in May or June of 2022. Any questions regarding the Cumberland County VDP can be directed to Lt. Jasmin Calderon at 856-453-0486, ext. 11108 or Veterans@co.cumberland.nj.us.

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