School of Social Work Receives $1.9 Million in Partnership with Sebastian County Veterans Treatment Court

by | Jun 11, 2020 | Announcements, Outreach & Impact, Research

Johanna Thomas and John M. Gallagher, both assistant professors of social work.

Johanna Thomas and John M. Gallagher, both assistant professors of social work.

The School of Social Work in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences has joined forces with Sebastian County Veterans Treatment Court and the Western Arkansas Counseling & Guidance Center to expand the court to veterans who are not eligible for Veterans Affairs benefits.

The expansion project was funded through a $1.9 million award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and will begin on July 31.

Johanna Thomas, associate professor in the School of Social Work and a licensed social worker in the state of Arkansas, in partnership with John M. Gallagher, also assistant professor of social work and licensed social worker in Arkansas, are spearheading the initiative with the Sebastian County Veterans Treatment Court.

“We have been working hard with Judge Stephen Tabor and his staff to expand their court in Sebastian and Crawford counties to veterans who are not currently eligible for the court, simply because they are not eligible for VA benefits,” Thomas said. “Veterans who are not VA eligible are often uninsured or underinsured and don’t have the means to self-pay for services. With this grant we will be able to ensure that Veterans who would otherwise be eligible for this court diversion program may participate because we are now able to receive the required services at no charge to them.

“Some reasons that a veteran may not be eligible for VA services are that they were a Traditional/National Guardsman, a Reservist, those veterans with other than honorable discharges, and veterans who exceed the income requirement thresholds,” Thomas explained. “Currently, the state of Arkansas has higher rate of veterans than the overall U.S. (9.1% vs. 7.7%, respectively). About 9% of the civilian population are veterans in Sebastian County. Crawford County has a similar population wherein approximately 9.5% of the civilian population are veterans. Local clinicians and experts in Sebastian and Crawford County estimate roughly 50% justice-involved veterans in the area are ineligible for VA healthcare benefits.” 

The main goal of the enhancement is to increase the capacity of the Sebastian County Veterans Treatment Court to serve justice-involved veterans in the catchment area. The court’s staff and clinicians from the Western Arkansas Counseling & Guidance Center will use the grant to pay for services through local community partners that utilize evidence-based interventions for veterans for substance use disorders (including intensive inpatient and outpatient services); post-traumatic stress disorder; anxiety, depression and other mental illness; criminogenic behavior; and smoking cessation, as well as other supportive therapies such as psychoeducation.

Over its five years, the grant will allow the Veterans Treatment Court to serve 125 veterans without VA benefits, more than doubling the current docket.

This story also appeared in the University of Arkansas News publication.

Sarah Brown

Communications Assistant

Office of Research and Innovation

479-575-6874 // sarahb@uark.edu