Veterans’ Health

Project Title

Developing an Online Training Course for Veterans Treatment Court Peer Mentors

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Veterans’ Health

Date Awarded

June 18, 2018


Outside New York State






Compared with similar individuals in the general population, veterans are 8 times more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 2–4 times more likely to have major depression. Several studies have shown an increased risk of criminal behavior for veterans with substance use issues, PTSD, or depression.

To address the unique needs of justice-involved veterans, Veterans Treatment Courts (VTCs) were developed as an alternative to incarceration for veterans who have committed low-level crimes and have mental health or substance use issues. Modeled after drug and mental health courts, VTCs are an effective way to reduce recidivism and address the unique needs of justice-involved veterans. By providing an alternative to incarceration, VTCs offer justice-involved veterans a second chance by giving them the treatment they need, while allowing them to stay in their own communities and out of prison. A critical component of VTCs are the peer mentors—volunteers who are veterans themselves—who provide around-the-clock support, advice, and camaraderie for veterans. Peer mentors have been found to produce positive clinical outcomes for participants. With the growth of VTCs nationally, there is a pressing need to identify and train new peer mentors to meet the increasing demand. In 2018, NYHealth awarded a grant to PsychArmor Institute to develop an online version of the in-person VTC peer mentor training program to expand access to peer mentors for veterans in need.

Under this grant, PsychArmor created an online training module, conducted outreach to increase awareness of the training, and provided technical support for the training program. The online training is a cost-effective means to meet the increased demand for peer mentors. To ensure uptake of the online training, PsychArmor tapped its extensive networks of VTCs, district attorneys, public defenders, judges, current peer mentors, and nonprofit partners to increase awareness and use of the online training course.  The ease of an online training program for mentors has resulted in an increased number of mentors and VTC participants, which will allow more veterans to have access to the peer mentorship that is vitally important to their health.