Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Carolyn Dennis


There is a higher rate of recidivism for U.S. veterans compared to the general population of offenders. To address the unique needs of veterans, separate housing units for veterans (VSUs) are now operating within correctional facilities in 29 U.S. states. Despite reports that VSUs are having a positive impact on recidivism, little is known of the experiences of correctional administrators who have implemented a VSU. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of several individuals who have implemented a VSU in their correctional facility. Guided by the quality implementation framework (QIF), data collected through semistructured interviews conducted with 7 U.S. correctional administrators were analyzed by reducing the information to significant statements, when combined into themes provided a descriptive analysis. Results from this study affirm that implementing a VSU is a feasible option for many correctional administrators with the desire to address the needs of veteran offenders. Key findings indicate most steps taken to implement a VSU align with quality implementation. Additional results indicate that presently there may be less consideration for VSU implementation processes associated with quality in the areas of ensuring staff training to work with the veterans, and in conducting process evaluations including outcomes tracking. VSUs have a profound and nearly immediate, effect on veteran inmate behaviors and reducing recidivism. This examination of the phenomenon of VSU implementation may offer implementers with evidenced-based practices to advance understanding of VSU implementation in the future, ultimately to benefit veteran offenders and the communities in which they reintegrate.