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Veterans treatment courts seek to rehabilitate veterans in lieu of punishment after an arrest

March 25, 2021

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If you had served the country and have been arrested you might be thinking to yourself, “how did I get here, and where should I go from here?” Going from serving your country to facing criminal charges is a dramatic change, but there is a way you can get through this situation and come out better afterwards. The veterans treatment courts (VTC) were started in 2008 and have since established a total of 461 courts as of 2016. These are specialized courts that look to assist those who have served and offer them treatment for issues they may have from their time serving. While the VTC is looking to help, the process of negotiation with them may be difficult or confusing for some.

Why are veterans being given “special treatment?” In short, “[t]he idea that veterans have earned ‘special treatment’ from the legal system arises from the understanding that the training to overcome the natural human aversion to harming others and frequently being deployed overseas to do that very deed is what may have caused the mental illness and substance abuse leading to one’s presence in front of a judge.” As the veteran population continues to grow, we are heading towards a time to where those retired service members will be leaving the service having spent their entire career at war. Due to the advancements in military and medical technology, many veterans are returning from war with injuries that might previously have been fatal. The most common injuries in the last 20 years have been post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Studies show that veterans with PTSD and/or TBI are at greater risk for to encountering the criminal justice system. This is where the VTC can step in to help.

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