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Army Veteran finds his calling helping incarcerated Veterans turn their lives around

Henry Molden, Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists, helping incarcerated Veterans.
Henry Molden, Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist, helping incarcerated Veterans.

VA’s Veterans Justice Program identifies justice-involved Veterans and offers medical and mental health care, substance abuse treatment, housing, and vocational rehabilitation services.

Henry Molden knew from an early age he wanted to work in the field of criminal justice. Growing up with a mother who was a nurse at a local prison, he would hear stories that would often pique his interest. It is no surprise this Army Veteran is now one of the VA’s Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists at the Michael DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, Texas.

As a Veteran himself, Molden felt drawn to work with Veterans and started with a VA Vet Center in 2007. At the five-year mark, he learned about a new Veterans Justice Outreach Program at the VA Medical center and applied for a position. 

“At the time I learned about the job, I didn't even know VA was trying to help these Veterans,” said Molden, who immediately knew this profession was what he was meant to do.

Veterans Justice Outreach specialists are responsible for coordinating with local justice system partners and direct outreach, assessment, and case management for justice-involved Veterans in local courts and jails.

“The work I'm doing now is like a dream job for me,” said Molden. “At the Vet Center, my focus area was working with incarcerated Veterans. At that time, the Veterans Justice Program had not been established, so my Vet Center experience thoroughly prepared me for this position.”

The Veterans Justice Program identifies justice-involved Veterans and works with them to access VA services at the earliest possible opportunity. The program also builds and maintains partnerships between VA and key elements of the criminal justice system.

As a member of the Houston VA team building this new program, Molden played a significant role in developing innovative strategies to assist incarcerated Veterans. This included working to have jail officials send enrollment forms directly to the VA eligibility office to streamline the process, so Veterans are enrolled with VA before they are released.

Many Veterans face an elevated risk of homelessness after release from jail or prison. To fix this problem, Molden works tirelessly with VA transitional housing programs, VA residential treatments, and VA contracted residential treatment programs before Veterans are released.

“In the past, if you were going to be homeless when released, the jail officials would say, ‘Hey, take the number to the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans,’” said Molden. “Now, we solve that issue before a Veteran gets out. The gold standard is for an individual to have a place and know where they're going before they're released.”

Molden has spent countless hours educating and assisting Veterans with their VA benefits; coordinating assistance in jail such as medications, mental health treatment, and substance abuse counseling; coordinating with attorneys to redirect Veterans from jail to VA residential treatment programs and VA contracted programs; and connecting Veterans with Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E)

Helping Veterans create a Community Re-entry Plan with goals, objectives, and solutions to barriers are critical elements of the process. 

“I had one Veteran incarcerated in the Harris County Jail and worked with him for about five months. He memorized my telephone number just as many others have done,” said Molden. “This guy served five years. When he got out, he called me to thank me. He said the information I gave him helped him have a seamless transition coming out of prison.”

Now receiving VA medical and mental health care, this particular Veteran is also enrolled in the VA housing program and working in VR&E. 

“Just to be a part of such success stories and to have someone calling you and say, “Thanks. The information and support you gave me really made the difference and helped me get through one of the roughest times of my life,” said Molden. “That feels amazing and to see him now on the right track shows what a difference we all can make.”

As of November 2020, VJO Specialists report serving in 601 Veterans Treatment Courts and other Veteran-focused court programs across the U.S. For more information, visit


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