Learn More About Our Veterans’ Services Program
Can We Help?
The Public Defender’s Office for the Ninth Judicial Circuit is only permitted to serve clients who have open cases with the Office of the Public Defender in Orange and Osceola Counties.
Area veterans who are interested in participating are generally identified by a qualified worker prior to Initial Appearances in order to ascertain whether or not there are issues that may be addressed in regard to addiction, medical problems, mental health, or housing needs. No veteran is excluded, regardless of VA funding eligibility.
Every interested veteran receives a mental health and substance abuse evaluation by an experienced clinician. Every veteran who is found to have special needs is offered treatment that may include case management and an individualized plan of evidence-based therapeutic interventions.
The defense team works toward the least restrictive and most rehabilitative option for the client. The defense attorney works to first ensure that the client is factually and rationally competent to proceed with the forensic process and then to ensure that he or she receives a therapeutically jurisprudent defense plan which takes into consideration any mitigating factors (i.e., the client may present with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from having endured severe trauma during combat). For clients participating in Veterans Court, a defense attorney who is trained to work specifically on veterans’ unique issues is assigned and a case manager is available to assist. Learn more about Veterans Court.
The veteran’s case manager works to remove all potential barriers to the veteran’s treatment. Transportation or bus passes are provided for medical and mental health appointments, court dates, job interviews, etc.
Income and Benefit Assistance
When a veteran loses his or her Social Security and/or VA benefits due to incarceration, the Public Defender Veteran’s Case Manager works towards ensuring that an application is completed and submitted to the Social Security Office and/or to the VA to have those benefits reinstated.
The team works towards assisting able-bodied veterans with vocational treatment and often assists in efforts to obtain a job and/or pursue educational opportunities which include collaboration with area agencies and businesses and may include the opportunity to pay court fines and costs with a veteran’s community service program.
Homeless veterans are given special consideration and commitment. Attempts are made to locate and secure housing for all willing/able veterans, regardless of VA benefit eligibility. Special attention is given to the challenging “dually diagnosed” clients and to those with criminal histories who are regularly refused and rejected by other programs and agencies due to past transgressions.
Interested veterans are connected with a successful peer in the community who has shared similar experiences and can advise and guide the veteran towards a more productive, successful path.
The case manager acts as the liaison between jail and community medical and mental health workers as well as the VA and a plethora of community agencies via a collaborative effort.