Veterans Defense Project
Promoting the effective and vigorous defense of Military Veterans in criminal court.
Veterans Defense Project
For as long as warriors have returned from battle, some have brought their war home with them, bearing invisible wounds that haunt in the present. These echoes of war—manifested in self-destructive, reckless, and violent behavior—reverberate through society, destroying not only the lives of these heroes, but their families and communities. The mission of the VDP is to restore veterans involved in the criminal justice system to the communities they served.
The Veterans Restorative Justice Act was only recently passed into law by the Minnesota state legislature in 2021. We must educate those legal professionals prosecuting and defending veterans, in order to best serve the veterans we hope to restore now that they are no longer serving in our military. We believe that this law in Minnesota is only the start and that similar laws should be passed nationwide.
As criminal defense lawyers and military veterans, Ryan Else and Brock Hunter set out to create a text that would empower our legal colleagues to passionately and skillfully defend our fellow veterans in criminal court. With proper preparation and execution, defending veterans can be among the most rewarding experiences a defense attorney can have.
In Memoriam: We will miss Pete so much. His impact on the veterans community and the Veterans Defense Project cannot be overstated.
"Do the right thing to the right person at the right time." His reasoning behind how to run a Veterans Treatment Court and how to genuinely help people was simply incredible.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on the VRJA: “This landmark legislation will help us see the bigger picture when veterans get caught in the criminal justice system. It’s time we recognize the circumstances that lead our veterans to the courtroom and better understand the complexity of the challenges veterans face when they come home.”
The Veterans Defense Project mourns the passing of Washington County Attorney, Peter Orput. Mr. Orput was an invaluable member of the Project’s Board of Directors. Mr. Orput was also instrumental in guiding and passing the Veterans Restorative Justice Act. He spent hours both testifying at the legislature and building consensus with the M
The Veterans Defense Project mourns the passing of Washington County Attorney, Peter Orput. Mr. Orput was an invaluable member of the Project’s Board of Directors. Mr. Orput was also instrumental in guiding and passing the Veterans Restorative Justice Act. He spent hours both testifying at the legislature and building consensus with the Minnesota County Attorney’s Association and other criminal justice stakeholders to see the Veterans Restorative Justice Act become law. Thanks in part to Mr. Orput’s efforts, the VRJA became law in August of 2021.
Mr. Orput’s work with the VDP did not end with the passage of the VRJA. He continued his work by training the state’s prosecutors on the logic and the mechanics of the VRJA. He was an active and vocal member of our board until his passing. And his tireless efforts occurred both while he managed a county attorney’s office and dealt with his health issues.
Please join us as we mourn the passing of our beloved colleague, friend, United States Marine and advocate. Semper Fidelis.
At St. Thomas School of Law, Ryan Else ’11 J.D. discovered a passion for defending veterans. That passion led to the Veterans Defense Project (VDP), which he co-founded in 2017 with fellow criminal defense attorney and veteran Brock Hunter. The VDP’s mission is “restoring veterans involved in the criminal justice system to the communities they served.”
The culmination of over a decade of effort by the VDP, Minnesota has passed a law that will allow military veterans to avoid jail time if they commit a crime due to a service-related condition. Governor Tim Walz held a ceremonial bill signing on Tuesday at Veterans Memorial Park in St. Paul to celebrate the Veterans Restorative Justice Act.
Sometimes we need to adopt a holistic approach to provide the appropriate services and supports called for in the situation. Meet Brock Hunter, Founder of the Veterans Defense Project, who is helping on a national and local level, to provide veterans the support they need.
3201 Hennepin Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408, United States