The Veterans Justice Commission is examining the extent and nature of veterans’ involvement in the criminal justice system and developing recommendations for evidence-based policy changes that enhance safety, health, and justice.

Launched in August 2022, the Commission is assessing the risk factors that drive veterans’ justice-system involvement, the adequacy of transitional assistance for military service members as they reenter civilian life, and the effectiveness of the justice system response when veterans break the law.

The Commission is chaired by former U.S. Defense Secretary and U.S. Senator Charles Hagel and includes former defense secretary and White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta as well as 13 other leaders representing veterans, the military, the Veterans Administration, community advocates, and various sectors of the justice system.

Commission Recommendations

VJC Background
Honoring Service, Advancing Safety: Supporting Veterans From Arrest Through Sentencing
In its first set of recommendations, the Commission calls for better identification of veterans at the front end of the justice system, increased diversion of veterans away from prosecution and incarceration, and a national center to advance best practices for justice-involved veterans and coordinate support.

The Challenge

The Opportunity

Commission Publications

4th of July concep. portrait of A soldier in front of a flag of the USA. The soldier with the gun in front of a flag. portrait soldie standing in front of usa flag. Non-existent person. Generative Ai
Racial Disparities Among Veterans

What does the data tell us about racial disparities among veterans? This fact sheet provides a snapshot, examining the racial breakdown for arrests, incarceration, homelessness, military justice, and more.

Backlit Department of Veterans Affairs Flag, Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, California
Unwavering Intent: Congress’ Enduring Commitment to Veterans Benefits

The VA denies benefits to service members assigned an “other than honorable” discharge. Does that practice align with what Congress intended, and what’s best for veterans and public safety?

Group of diverse veterans talking during PTSD support group.
From Service to Sentencing: Unraveling Risk Factors for Criminal Justice Involvement Among U.S. Veterans

How might military service be linked to criminal justice system involvement? This brief explores risk factors that may explain connections between service and criminal behavior among U.S. veterans.

Hand of young supportive man consoling his friend or one of attendants with post traumatic syndrome caused by dramatic life event
Suicide Among Justice-Involved Veterans: Understanding Risk and Meeting Needs

This brief examines research on the overlapping risk factors for veteran suicide and justice system involvement, as well as some unique effects that criminal justice contact may have on veteran suicide.

Blue-Red People Veterans
Alternatives to Prosecution and Incarceration for Justice-Involved Veterans: A Model Policy Framework

Veterans encountering the criminal justice system confront a patchwork of interventions designed to help them, but many fall through the cracks. This policy roadmap outlines a better approach.

Close-up Of Flag
Who's a Veteran? Challenges in Defining and Identifying Veteran Status

Who qualifies as a veteran, and why does it matter? The lack of a uniform definition has important implications for justice-involved veterans.



Worn USA military dog tags close up on US American flag with blank space for text
From Service Through Reentry: A Preliminary Assessment of Veterans in the Criminal Justice System

A preliminary assessment of the current evidence about American veterans’ interactions with the civilian criminal justice system reviews four categories: risk factors, transition from service, and the so-called front and back ends of the justice system.

Commission Members

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visits with Naval War College President Rear Admiral P. "Gardner" Howe in his office prior to participating in a moderated forum in the college's auditorium in Newport, RI, September 3, 2014. DoD Photo by Glenn Fawcett (Released)
Hon. Charles Hagel
24th Secretary of Defense
U.S. Department of Defense
Former U.S. Senator (NE)
Boggs Headshot
Michael P. Boggs
Chief Justice
Supreme Court of Georgia
Carla Bugg
Criminal Justice Services Coordinator
Recovery Organization of Support Specialists
Finlay Headshot
Dr. Andrea Finlay, PhD
Research Health Scientist
Veterans Administration Center for Innovation to Implementation
Hall Headshot
Pelicia Hall
Senior Vice President
ViaPath Technologies
Former Commissioner
Mississippi Department of Corrections
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Greg Hamilton
Chief Customer Officer
Sheriff of Travis County, Austin, TX (ret.)
Inch Headshot
Major General Mark Inch
Corrections Consultant, Mark 2.54, LLC
9th Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons
U.S. Army (ret.)
Sergeant Major Alford McMichael
14th Sergeant Major of the
U.S. Marine Corps (ret.)
Miller Headshot
General Maryanne Miller
United States Air Force (ret.)
Moore Headshot
Justice Eileen C. Moore
Associate Justice, California Court of Appeal
Army Nurse Corps, United States Army
Panetta Headshot
Hon. Leon Panetta
23rd Secretary of Defense
U.S. Department of Defense
Former White House Chief of Staff
Former U.S. Congressman (CA)
Patton Headshot
Vincent W.
Patton III, EdD
Senior VP for Leadership Development, NewDay USA
8th Master Chief Petty Officer of the
U.S. Coast Guard (ret.)
Major General
Angela Salinas
Chief Executive Officer
Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas
United States Marine Corps (ret.)
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Dr. Ronald Self, PhD
Founder and Executive Director
Veterans Healing Veterans
from the Inside Out
Former U.S. Marine
Sornborger Headshot
Dr. Jo Sornborger, PsyD
Executive Director
Operation Mend, UCLA Health
Jim Seward
Jim Seward
(Project Director)
Veterans Justice Commission, CCJ
Former General Counsel to Gov. Dennis Daugaard (SD)
Colonel, United States Army
Chiarelli Headshot
General Peter Chiarelli
(Senior Adviser)
Member, CCJ Board of Trustees
Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army (ret.)

Front-End Advisory Committee Members

Criminal Justice Services Coordinator, Recovery Organization of Support Specialists
Executive Director, TASC, Inc. (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities)
Former Sheriff of Travis County, Austin, Texas; Chief Customer Officer, CIVICTEC
Assistant Professor, Texas State University
President and CEO, America's Warrior Partners
District Court Program Coordinator, Utah
Management Analyst, DeschutesSafe, Deschutes County DA’s Office
Associate Justice, California Court of Appeal
Director of Justice Initiatives at Crime and Justice Institute
Buffalo City Court (ret.); Founder, Nation's First Veterans Treatment Court
Founder, Veterans Serving Veterans
Legal Director, Swords to Plowshares
Deputy Director, Upstate Warrior Solution
Division Director, Justice For Vets

Transition Advisory Committee Members

Director of Litigation, National Veterans Legal Services Program
Director, Life Development Resources, P.A
Professor and Director of Military and Veterans Programs; University of Southern California
Attorney-Advisor, United States Army Trial Defense Service
General Counsel, Vietnam Veterans of America. Inc.
Peace Officer, City of Chula Vista
Director, San Diego County Veterans Coalition
14th Sergeant Major of the U.S. Marine Corps (ret.)
Kansas Supreme Court Justice (ret.)
Founder, Tri-Lux Effects Based Outcomes, LLC
Senior Vice President for Leadership Development, NewDay USA; Master Chief Petty Officer of the U.S. Coast Guard (ret.)
Commissioner of Veterans Service, Georgia Department of Veterans Affairs
Executive Director, Operation Mend, UCLA Health
Founder and Executive Director, Operation Restoration
Executive Director, National Veterans Transition Services, Inc.

Commission Advisers

Ryan Else – Criminal Defense Attorney

Brock Hunter – Criminal Defense Attorney

Brigadier General David MacEwen – U.S. Army (ret.)

Robin Olsen – Principal Policy Associate, Justice Policy Center

Barbara Pierce – Director of Justice Initiatives, Crime and Justice Institute

Evan Seamone (in memoriam) – U.S. Army (ret.); Fellow, National Institute of Military Justice

Wesley Smith – Researcher, Texas Department of Corrections

Press Releases

About the Art

The banner design was created by an adult in custody designer in the Oregon Corrections Enterprises (OCE) Graphic Design program. The mission of OCE, in partnership with the Oregon Department of Corrections, is to promote public safety by providing adults in custody with work and training opportunities in a self-sustaining organization.


Support for the Veterans Justice Commission comes from The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, The Just Trust, LinkedIn, the National Football League, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, T. Denny Sanford, Southern Company Foundation, and the Wilf Family Foundations as well as the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, #StartSmall, and other CCJ general operating contributors.