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The Need For Veterans Specialty Courts

1120 words - 5 pages

The need for Veterans Specialty Courts
Natasha N. LaFon
Columbia Southern University

The need for Veterans Specialty Courts
When an individual returns home from a war zone, there are many things that can happen, they can deal and seek help with the things they have been through or they can bottle it up and refuse to look “weak”. Either way, things will never be the same as when they left and that reason alone can change their lives.
Significance of Veterans Courts
The need for a specialty court in support of our Veterans is not just something that would be nice; it is something that would be unconstitutional if denied. This year, 2013 marks 12 straight years of ...view middle of the document...

Once a veteran is in the criminal justice system, the treatment they are offered is not what they need and because of that these symptoms can interfere with their ability to properly interact with court officials. Individuals who suffer from PTSD require immediate and continuing treatment and have a subjective response involving fear, helplessness, horror and symptoms from each of the following symptom clusters: intrusive recollections, avoidant/numbing symptoms, and hyper-arousal symptoms (Walls, 2011, pg. 2). The military discharge status of most justice involved veterans is less than honorable, which makes them ineligible for many of the benefits and services offered by the Veterans Administration (VA) and leaves them to receive treatment from Medical Professionals untrained in the department of PTSD and TBI (Levitas and Schwartz, 2011, pg 3).
Many active duty soldiers do not seek the required treatment for PTSD or TBI because they fear treatment will have a negative impact on their career, instead the symptoms spiral out of control and result in the soldier making some type of decision that results in him/her getting discharged from the military. Army Lt. General Raymond Odierno stated “These soldiers go out every single day for a year, that’s a long time. You have to mentally and physical tough, and they are.” Researchers have found that between 15 and 40 percent of people with mental disorders have substance abuse problems. In relation to PTSD, 75 percent of veterans with PTSD also have a substance abuse problem to cope with their symptoms (Walls, 2011, pg. 8).

Effectiveness of Veterans Courts
The significance of veterans’ courts is obvious and most states are developing these specialized courts to assist our veterans with the transition from military back to civilian life. Specifically, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department has developed a “hybrid” approach to restorative justice program titled “Community of Veterans Engaged in Restoration (COVER)” which applied restorative justice to prisoners with prior military service. The COVER program was established to provide better alternatives than languishing in a corrections institution and allowing veterans to spiral deeper into criminality, mental illness and despair (Levitas and Schwartz, 2011, pg 1).
In San Francisco alone, more than 70 percent of homeless and at risk veterans have substance abuse issues and close to 60 percent suffer from mental illness to include PTSD, TBI and some are dual diagnosed with other medical issues. ...

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