WATERBURY The Vermont Agency of Human Services (AHS) Department of Mental Health (DMH) today announced the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded Vermont a five year, $2.1 million grant to create an infrastructure project to serve veterans of all conflicts with trauma-spectrum illnesses, who are at risk or have already become involved with the criminal justice system. Vermonts veterans, who have so selflessly protected the liberties we all enjoy, deserve the most caring, compassionate services we can provide to them when they are in need, said Governor Jim Douglas. Vermont has a proud tradition of providing these supports to our states veterans, and we are truly pleased that the federal government has recognized the quality of these services through their support of this new initiative. The grant will support the creation of a statewide intergovernmental initiative intended to address the needs of Vermont veterans and other adults with trauma spectrum-illness who are involved in the criminal justice system through identification, screening and assessment, and diversion from the criminal justice system to evidence-based treatment and supports. During the projects first three years, DMH will pilot its infrastructure and intervention model in Chittenden County, screening an estimated 14,000 veterans and other adults in the criminal justice system for trauma-related illness and diverting an estimated 300 from detention to evidence-based treatment and supports. In years three through five, the project will progress toward statewide implementation, screening approximately an additional 24,500 adults and diverting roughly 525 to treatment. Over the grant term, about 38,500 adults will be screened and roughly 825 will be diverted to evidence-based care, resulting in increased access to trauma informed services and evidence-based trauma treatment and community supports for these veterans. The Agency of Human Services is fully committed to ensuring that veterans and their families have access to comprehensive supports, particularly through our involvement with the Military, Family and Community Network and our promotion of the employment of veterans through our Division for Vocational Rehabilitation, said Cynthia D. LaWare, Secretary of AHS. This SAMHSA grant to our Department of Mental Health will enable us to leverage existing resources as we continue to help at-risk veterans achieve success and support successful community reintegration. This grant will enhance current efforts by DMH, the Department of Corrections, the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program Division of the Health Department, and the Court Administrator to focus on better interventions for persons involved with or at risk of involvement with the criminal justice system, added DMH Commissioner Michael Hartman. Together with ongoing efforts by the Veterans Administration and local veterans groups, this grant will help more veterans access valuable services and supports. DMH and community partners are currently working out the details of a plan to implement these expanded services for veterans.