Veterans Defense Project

A nonprofit organization

$9,335 raised by 33 donors

47% complete

$20,000 Goal

The VDP Board of Directors will match up to $10,000 in donations made to the VDP on Give to the Max Day or in connection with the current Give MN campaign.  

These funds will be used to more fully implement the Veterans Restorative Justice Act (VRJA) in Minnesota, particularly in Greater Minnesota, and to create working groups in other states seeking to enact VRJA-type legislation helping their veterans.

For as long as warriors have returned from battle, some have brought their war home with them, bearing invisible wounds that haunt them in the present. These echoes of war — manifested in self-destructive, reckless, and sometimes violent behavior — reverberate through society, impacting not only the lives of these heroes, but their families and communities.


Promoting the effective and vigorous defense of Military Veterans in criminal court.

Our Mission:

Restoring veterans involved in the criminal justice system to the communities they served.

Our Vision:

A culturally competent criminal justice system that ensures veterans get the holistic services and supports they have earned to help them succeed in the communities they served.

History of the VDP & The Veterans Restorative Justice Act

Click on the image below to read more about Attorney Ryan Else's journey to co-founding the VDP, and passage of the Veterans Restorative Justice Act in 2021:

To learn more about the work we do, and what your support will help us achieve, please visit our website:

Endorsements for the VDP and the VRJA

General James L. Jones
“Let us rededicate ourselves to serving and caring for America’s veterans with the same love and devotion with which they have served the country. Among the most important ways we can fulfill this mission is by continuing the hard work of expanding and strengthening veterans restorative justice measures across the land. Restorative justice ensures that veterans whose offense is related to service-related conditions receive the professional treatment and support services they have earned, and the second chance they are owed. Done right, the special guidelines and diversion procedures for handling these cases will not only benefit our deserving veterans, but it will also strengthen our communities.

Thank you to all those in Minnesota leading this effort and to the advocates and partners of this vital mission across the country.”

General James L. Jones, USMC (Ret.)
      32nd Commandant U.S. Marine Corps Commander, U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe

21st U. S. National Security Advisor

Michael Hurley:
“Supporting the Veterans Defense Project and the Veterans Restorative Justice Act are among the most important actions we Americans can take. The debt we owe our veterans is immeasurable. Throughout our history, they have done hard things in hard places to protect us and our freedom. 

Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, I served alongside the most elite forces in the U.S. military in Afghanistan. In the Balkans in the late 1990s, I saw firsthand how our soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen and women brought an end to despicable ethnic cleansing and delivered war criminals to justice. Our veterans have served in the harshest and most dangerous places in the world. The tragedies our veterans have witnessed can cause deep trauma. Some veterans, upon their return to civilian life, have had difficulty coping with the psychic and emotional pain that they bear. This can lead to self-destructive, sometimes criminal behavior, and in turn involvement in the criminal justice system. The VDP and VRJA recognize that these veterans who have done so much to protect our country and have so much talent and experience to offer their communities in the future, deserve a second chance. I’ve seen countries where the rule of law doesn’t exist, where individual lives are not valued. Our veterans have sacrificed so much for us. I’m profoundly thankful for our freedom, and I know that our veterans are the main reason why we have it. I encourage all Americans to support and contribute to the Veterans Defense Project and expansion of Minnesota’s Veterans Restorative Justice Act throughout this nation."

Michael Hurley, attorney at Law

      9/11 Commission and co-author of The 9/11 Commission Report,  retired CIA officer (Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan)

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Veterans Defense Project

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