Acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer

Camden, N.J. — The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office hosted its first symposium for military and veterans affairs Feb. 19 in at the Oaklyn VFW. The event was held as part of the New Jersey Attorney General’s 21 County/21st Century Policing Project, an initiative aimed at strengthening the relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve while also speaking about potential issues before they happen.

“I can’t imagine the challenge a soldier faces when leaving home to fight abroad and coming home to successfully re-integrate into society after experiencing war,” said Acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer. “More important than expressing our gratitude in words is expressing our gratitude in action and information.”

During the event, multiple speakers talked about the various services available in Camden County that could help veterans with different issues before law enforcement becomes involved.

Below is a list of the speakers and the events, information and services they highlighted:

Melinda Kane, Camden County Freeholder

  • Operation Yellow Ribbon sends care packages to troops
  • The Remembering Our Fallen Tribute Towers will be coming to Cooper River the first weekend of October
  • There are suicide prevention and awareness programs, medal ceremonies and offerings with local colleges out there in Camden County

Matt Spataro, Camden County Prosecutor’s Office

  • In 2017, CCPO launched the Veterans Diversion Program to identify eligible veterans at the earliest contact and connect them with services
  • The program is open to any veteran or active-duty soldier with a diagnosed mental illness (cognitive, anxiety, PTSD, traumatic brain injury) who has been charged with an eligible offense (non-violent petty disorderly persons offense, disorderly persons offense, or crime of the third or fourth degree)
  • They’re paired with a volunteer mentor to decide on a successful treatment program – charges are dismissed if successfully completed
  • Ineligible veterans or soldiers can ask about other pre-trial intervention programs

Kevin Carr-Lemke, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs

  • The Veterans Justice Outreach program connects with veterans as they enter the justice system to link them to healthcare options
  • Needs are matched with the recommended treatment, from basic housing issues to specialized programs (medical, substance abuse, mental health)
  • The program works with local police departments on how to respond to veterans having a crisis

Ted Gallagher, Camden County Office of Veterans Affairs

  • County office assists Veterans in applying for federal, state and county VA benefits
  • The office arranges for placement of American flags on veterans’ graves in county cemeteries around Memorial Day
  • VA Office recognizes service by presenting deserved military medals to veterans

Fred Davis, Rutgers Camden Veteran’s Affairs

  • Rutgers Camden is the first Purple Heart University in the history of New Jersey designating it as highly military friendly
  • Rutgers offers Pathway to Employment to connect veterans to jobs, among other programs
  • The University offers three scholarships and one forgiven loan for veterans
  • Veterans are eligible to enroll in classes three days before any other students

Tina Mikes, SoldierOn

  • Breaking ground in Monmouth County on a 70-unit veteran preference complex open to any veterans in the state who are formerly homeless or have unstable homes
  • Goal of the agency is to stabilize veterans living situations for a long time; they pay past due bills so they don’t face eviction
  • In Camden County, Catholic Charities and Veterans Multi-Service Center both have a Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) grant like SoldierOn to offer help

Vincent Solomeno, NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

  • Recruits mentors for the statewide Veterans Diversion Program; trained mentors assist one or more veterans in getting help or completing treatment after making contact with the criminal justice system
  • Connects veterans and their families with various programs offered from tuition credit to PTSD counseling
  • Connects veterans with transitional housing programs in the state
  • Hosts medal ceremonies and offers funeral honors

If you have any questions regarding the services offered, please contact the speaker at the email next to their name.