Advocates Say Imprisoned Veterans Should Have Access to VA

Bryant Jordan | | March 11, 2016

Two veterans' service organizations are backing Senate legislation requiring prison officials to give the Veterans Affairs Department reasonable access to a prisoner who has served in the military. John Rowan, president of the Vietnam Veterans Association, on Tuesday informed Sens. Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Dick Durbin, a Democrat from New York and fellow panel member, of the organization's support for the bill, while Paralyzed Veterans of America on Thursday notified the lawmakers of its support.

"Because of its long history with veterans and criminal justice issues, [Vietnam Veterans of America] has always believed that VA access to incarcerated veterans is especially needed by those transitioning from incarceration to life beyond prison walls, Rowan wrote in the letter, a copy of which was provided to

Carl Blake, associate executive director for Government Relations for PVA, said the group offers its full support to the bill. "A veteran utilizing resources such as mental health care, substance abuse treatment and education benefits significantly increases the likelihood of successful re-entry into society, he told the Senators in a letter. The Senate legislation, which passed out of the committee with bipartisan support, is aimed primarily at rolling back some of the onerous mandatory sentences that in recent years have been determined to be too harsh or unfair...