Most veterans are strengthened by their military service, but in many cases, the combat experience has left veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.
One in five veterans has symptoms of a mental health disorder or cognitive impairment. One in six veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom suffer from a substance abuse issue.
Left untreated, mental health disorders common among veterans can directly lead to involvement in the criminal justice system. Veterans’ treatment courts are hybrid drug and mental health courts that use the drug court model to serve veterans struggling with addiction, serious mental illness and/or co-occurring disorders.
These specialized courts promote sobriety, recovery and stability, and substance abuse or mental health treatment is offered as an alternative to incarceration and punitive punishments. This is accomplished through the cooperation and collaboration of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care networks and the Veterans’ Benefits Administration, and at times, volunteer veteran mentors and veterans’ family support organizations.
Veterans Treatment Courts are tapping into the unique aspects of military and veteran culture and using it to the benefit of the veteran. They act as a “one-stop shop,” linking veterans with the programs, benefits and services they have earned.
Veterans Treatment Courts are being established in jurisdictions across the country, and by utilizing the same rigorous protocol of treatment and personal accountability, they are keeping eligible Veterans out of jail or prison and making sure they get needed treatment and support.
Contact your local court system to determine if your community has a Veterans Treatment Court already. If not, be sure to ask if one is in the process of being started.