By Debbie Gregory.
Last month, under an agreement between the U.S. Attorney, the Chief of Pretrial Services for the Western District of Texas and the VA, a Veterans Treatment Court, the first located on a major military installation, was established at Fort Hood. This is a great veteran benefit to the many veterans in the Fort Hood area.
Also called the Veterans Endeavor for Treatment Support, the program hopes to aid veterans with service-connected mental health or substance abuse disorders to stay out of the court system. As far as veteran resources go, this one is a win-win for all.
Fort Hood was chosen because of the large veteran population surround the base. However, the program is voluntary. A variety of misdemeanor crimes will fall into the program such as driving while intoxicated, various types of assaults, property crimes and theft crimes.
Qualified veterans charged with committing misdemeanors while on Fort Hood will be eligible to participate in the pilot program designed to provide an alternative to a federal conviction. The treatment court model also builds upon the Department of Justice ‘Smart on Crime’ initiative to bolster prevention and reentry efforts to deter crime and reduce recidivism.
“This is a unique program, and so far as we know, it is the only one of its kind for offenses committed by veterans on military bases,” said Richard Durbin, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas.
Scheduled to begin this month, the initiative will be overseen by U.S. District Court Judge Walter Smith Jr. and run by Judge Jeffrey Manske.
Participants in the program will be under intensive supervision for approximately 12-18 months, concurrently utilizing various types of treatment depending on their circumstances. Treatment could include substance abuse, mental health, and counseling.
More than 160 of these courts exist in state and federal jurisdictions nationwide. If you know of a local Veterans’ Court in your area, please feel free to send the information to [email protected] and we will add it to our Veterans Court Resource page.