Veteran Treatment Courts follow the Drug Treatment model, in that it is a collaborative justice court. The court offers alternatives to case proceedings that address underlying problems which contribute to criminal activity or other court involvement. Veteran Treatment Courts lead to the placement of as many mentally ill offenders who are veterans of the U.S. military, including those with PTSD, TBI and MST, substance abuse, or any mental health problem, in VA counseling and treatment programs. In many cases, counseling is required and incorporated into the treatment programs that are designed to treat the underlying psychological disorders. Participating veterans are ordered to complete the recommended treatment plan and comply with any other terms and conditions of probation imposed by the court.
The best argument for veterans courts, advocates said is that they seem to work: 70 percent of defendants finish the programs and 75 percent are not rearrested for at least two years after, according to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. Moreover, these courts have resulted in programs that have reduced recidivism, lowered crime and rebuilt lives among the courts' participants.
There are a few differences that exist among various states and within the veterans court community. For example, some feel that all vets should be accepted, including those who never deployed to a war zone. Others believe the courts should admit only combat veterans with mental health issues associated with their wartime experiences. Some courts don't hear cases where veterans have been charged with violent crimes, others do, with stipulations.
Keep in mind: Even if you don't have a lawyer yet or don't have all the paperwork, it is critical to attend all hearings on time. The court's first impression is important.
Currently, there are 33 Veteran Treatment Courts within 29 counties (Los Angeles and Santa Barbara Counties each have two). Five counties have alternative veteran treatment courts: Amador, Kern, Nevada, Santa Cruz, and Trinity.