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Veteran Treatment Courts Offer Alternatives

vet treatment court

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:

Justice For Veterans

National Association of Veteran Advocates

American Bar Association Military Pro Bono Project

Jail Diversion and Trauma Recovery Program

California Veterans Legal Institute

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Grant Enables More Veteran Treatment Courts

Veteran-Courts

By Debbie Gregory.

Many of our veterans return home with substance abuse and psychological health problems, which often go untreated. Sadly, these challenges can sometimes lead to criminal or other destructive behaviors. Special Veterans Treatment Courts seek to treat veterans suffering from substance abuse and/or mental health disorders.

Veterans Treatment Courts are modeled after drug courts, which promote collaboration among the judiciary, community corrections agencies, drug treatment providers, and other community support groups.

A number of states have taken steps to promote Veterans Treatment Courts or veterans assistance within the state court system.

And now, the Justice Department has announced plans to award more than $4 million to 13 state and local jurisdictions to develop their own programs. This year’s grants will go to court systems in Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Florida, Montana, Virginia, Missouri, California, Texas, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

The system has proven so successful that the VA has mandated that every VA medical center have a veterans justice outreach specialist who provides legal assistance to veterans and supports veterans treatment courts in their region.

VA Secretary Robert McDonald said veterans often end up in the judicial system after suffering post-traumatic stress, brain injury or mental illness that can lead to substance abuse, homelessness and criminal activity.

“And all too often, that substance abuse begins with opioids prescribed by DoD or VA doctors for service-related conditions,” McDonald said. “All of these things are preventable.”

The VA has also launched an aggressive campaign to educate physicians on prescribing practices.
Veterans Courts promote sobriety, recovery, and stability through a coordinated response involving the traditional partners found in drug courts and mental health courts, as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare networks, the Veterans Benefits Administration, State Departments of Veterans Affairs, volunteer veteran mentors, and veterans family support organizations.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.