The Incarcerated Veterans
Transition Program gives former soldiers, before being released from
prison, an opportunity to participate in a special program designed
to ease the transition back into their communities and the work
force. The program, a multiagency initiative operated by the
Illinois departments of Corrections, Veterans' Affairs and
Employment Security, is another effort to fulfill Gov. Blagojevich's
commitment to enhance the successful re-entry of inmates into
society through essential programs and services.
approximately 450 veterans have participated in the program, which
was launched at the correctional centers in Taylorville and Dixon in
February 2004. Since then, the program has expanded to six other
correctional facilities across the state: Sheridan, Vienna, Shawnee,
Southwestern, East Moline and Danville. In fiscal 2002, the
recidivism rate in Illinois among veterans was slightly lower than
that of the regular population, at 46.9 percent and 51.8 percent
"Once they have served their debt to society, we must help our
former soldiers get back on their feet," Dolgos said. "That's why we
go in and sit down with these individuals to tell them about all of
the benefits that they will be eligible for when they're released."
About 18 months prior to release, eligible inmates are
transferred to one of the participating prisons to take part in the
Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program, which includes employment
counseling, assistance with short-term housing arrangements and help
with obtaining ID cards.
"The Illinois Department of Employment Security has a
three-member IVTP team that has worked with over 400 veterans in the
past year in Taylorville," said Russell, the department director.
"Our most valuable contribution to this coordinated state effort is
the individual counseling and confidence-building that IDES provides
to our veteran clients, enabling them to remove barriers to
employment they previously faced."
"Re-entry management is a major
goal of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and the Illinois Department of
Corrections," said Corrections Director Roger E. Walker Jr. "The
Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program continues to be a
successful cooperative effort that aims to support the re-entry of
incarcerated veterans into the community by identifying programs and
services that will strengthen their transition. Such programs not
only benefit our communities and help inmates return to society,
but also serve as a valuable asset to the taxpayer."
[to top of second column]
Graduates of the program were also given information about the
governor's proposal to provide uninsured, low-income Illinois
veterans with access to affordable, comprehensive health care. Under
the first phase of Veterans Care, a program jointly designed by the
governor and Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, veterans who don't have health
insurance and don't live within 50 miles of a federal VA clinic
would be covered. Participants who take part in the pilot program
would not be charged a monthly premium. Prescription drugs and
doctor's office visits would require a very minimal co-payment,
ranging from $2 to $5.
To be eligible for Veterans Care a veteran must:
Be between the ages
of 19 and 64.
Have been uninsured
for the past six months.
Live at least 50
miles from the nearest VA medical center.
Have a household
income below 100 percent of the federal poverty level.
Not have been
dishonorably discharged from service.
Blagojevich's other major re-entry initiatives include the
program at Sheridan, which is designed to be the largest fully
dedicated state drug prison in the nation. In recognizing that drugs
are a leading cause of recidivism, the governor opened the Sheridan
National Drug Prison and Reentry Program in January 2004. Today,
Sheridan is moving drug-involved offenders through an intensive drug
treatment, cognitive skills development, vocational and job
preparation program. The program begins in the prison setting and
follows them through their re-entry and back into their communities
under an extensive case management program with heightened parole
[News release from the
Department of Veterans' Affairs and the
Department of Corrections]