Public Meeting Thursday at Fairleigh Dickinson University
for New Jersey Military Veterans Mentoring Program
HACKENSACK, NJ—The New Jersey Battle Buddies Mentoring Program is being launched to help expand services offered to military veterans through the state courts’ Veterans Assistance Project.
The first of several public information sessions on the mentoring program is scheduled for Thursday, November 21 at 6-8 p.m. at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Edward Williams Auditorium, 150 Kotte Place, Hackensack, NJ.
Speakers at the event include retired state Superior Court Judge Barbara Curran, who serves as a pro-bono counsel for veterans seeking disability benefits and other services; Jim Fallon, of Hoboken, a veterans service officer with the Disabled American Veterans; and Benjamin Levine, a U.S. Navy veteran and Hackensack-based lawyer who is organizing the mentoring program.
“The idea is to focus mentors to work with veterans who need assistance,” said Levine, who served in the Navy as a pilot. “Who better to understand the problems of veterans than a veteran.”
The Veterans Assistance Project (VAP) was launched in 2008 as a pilot project in state and municipal courts in Atlantic and Union counties and has since expanded statewide. VAP is a joint effort of the state Judiciary, New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health Services.
“This project seeks to identify veterans as soon as possible after they enter the criminal justice system, and when needed, provide referrals to community resources to address the unique services required by veterans. Those services could include substance use/abuse treatment, mental health counseling, securing veterans’ benefits and if necessary, mentoring by a fellow veteran,” states a summary of the project on the New Jersey Judiciary website. The goal of the project is to aid veterans to overcome or change “behaviors that led to their criminal justice involvement.”
In addition, the mentoring program will assist veterans who potentially face legal problems. The program is seeking honorably discharged veterans of all branches of the U.S. armed services to serve as mentors.
“We’re looking for men and women willing to serve as, essentially, ‘Battle Buddies’ with fellow veterans in the court system,” said Levine. “We are seeking veterans with a variety of life experiences, from college students to older veterans active in community and veterans’ organizations.”
The mentoring program will include training sessions for volunteers and be developed through the assistance of the Administrative Office of the Courts of New Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, county veterans service officers, college veterans affairs officers, and veterans service organizations.
For more information, contact: Benjamin Levine at 201-488-1161 or Levine@ix.netcom.com.