Incarcerated Veterans: Building a Therapeutic Community Within the Denver County Jail System

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Jennifer Tippett, Psy.D.

Second Advisor

Michael Karson, Ph.D., J.D.

Third Advisor

Bradley McMillan, Ph.D.


Veteran, Incarcerated, Veteran Service Unit (VSU), Mental health, Cultural competency, Military culture, Justice involved veterans

Publication Statement

Copyright held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


The following discussion addresses the implementation of a VSU within the Denver Sheriff Department (DSD) facilities. Unfortunately, an investigation into the Denver Sheriff Department (DSD) inmate veteran data revealed limited and inconsistent results, rendering a needs-based argument unreliable. While the available data is still informative and valuable, it remains a part of the following dialogue. Nevertheless, these deficits shift the focus of such an essential conversation to available resources recognizing the unique needs of the incarcerated veteran population. As such, the argument for a DSD, jail based VSU is constructed by existing research and government reports exploring risk factors with an emphasis on military cultural competence and related mental health concerns. Ultimately, three primary findings emerge: 1. Incarcerated veterans share a cultural identity and unique life experience that sets them apart from other inmates, 2. This impacts their risk for and during incarceration in addition to their understanding of and participation in mental health treatment and 3. Research investigating this population is sparse, largely outdated and in need of augmentation.


56 pgs

Paper Method

Program Evaluation/Development

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