Veteran Treatment Courts Offer Alternatives
By Debbie Gregory.
Many military veterans have had life experiences that are very different from their civilian contemporaries. Depending on when and where they served, veterans may have experienced a vast array of physical, emotional and psychological injuries.
Untreated, unhealed emotional and psychological injuries lead to further veteran illnesses, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression. These illnesses can lead to substance abuse, the commission of crimes, and even suicide. Special Veterans Treatment Courts seek to provide veterans suffering from these issues assistance that will help keep them from slipping into real legal problems.
Documented evidence suggests that a significant number of Vietnam veterans experienced severe problems adjusting to civilian life. So too, have many more recently minted veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Veterans Court offers opportunity for the VA, local support organizations, and local communities to offer treatment as an alternative to time in jail.
The first Veterans’ Court in the U.S. was established in 2008 in Buffalo, New York. Veterans’ Courts are modeled after Drug and Mental Health Courts, in that they promote sobriety, recovery and stability through strict court appointed measures.
Usually Veterans Courts hear cases involving misdemeanor charges, and veterans who choose to participate are assessed by a mental health professional and their treatment needs are determined. Most of them receive treatment through the VA’s health network.
Veterans Treatment Courts increase the likelihood of successful rehabilitation through early and continuous judicially-supervised treatment.
Veterans Treatment Courts also provide veterans with services and benefits that aid in their successful transition back into society.
Below are some resources that may assist any veterans in need of legal assistance:
National Association of Veteran Advocates
American Bar Association Military Pro Bono Project
Jail Diversion and Trauma Recovery Program
California Veterans Legal Institute
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