Returning vets are frequently suffering from some form of mental disorder, from Traumatic Brain Injury, PTSD, depression, anxiety, or a combination of these. Sometimes, psychological and neurological problems can lead to secondary issues with violence, anger, and substance abuse. In addition, many veterans are unable to work due to their symptoms, are not receiving proper treatment, and may not receive VA disability pay until years after discharge, if at all.
All of the above issues can easily lead to trouble with the law. A Veteran’s Treatment Court is a special court that is devoted specifically to dealing with veterans who are in legal trouble that stems from service-connected disabilities. These courts have judges and administrators who are specially trained to understand the specific issues that surround returning veterans. A standard judge may not fully understand that substance abuse is a secondary symptom of PTSD, and send a veteran to prison for a drug offense. This would likely result in making a veteran’s symptoms worse, and increase his or her odds of reoffending. In Veterans Treatment court, a judge will not excuse the behavior of the veteran, but will be better equipped to help the veteran receive treatment for their problems. Often, a judge can see an arrest for substance abuse as an opportunity to get a veteran the help he or she deserves.
The Treatment Court offers mentoring, often from other veterans who themselves have been through the program. Mentors help the veteran receive substance abuse counseling, therapy, medical treatment, and even vocational assistance.
What does it say about our society when we send young men and women to experience the horrors of war, do not provide adequate treatment for them, and then lock them away for displaying symptoms? Many Vietnam-era veterans will certainly recognize this as a problem that has plagued veterans for many years. The Veteran’s Treatment Court is one answer to this problem. Please visit justiceforvets.org, and get involved. You can donate, become a volunteer, or find a Veteran’s Treatment Court near you.
As a society, we have a duty to help our veterans reintegrate into society and receive the treatment they need, instead of treating them like criminals. Remember the Justice for Vets credo: “leave no veteran behind.”