Boots on the Ground Color Run
Time & Location
About the Event
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken an unprecedented toll on our men and women in uniform. While most veterans are strengthened by their military service, many are left with issues such as PTSD and traumatic brain injury. Far too many struggle in their effort to readjust to life outside the military. Often, mental health issues are compounded by substance abuse, family strife, unemployment, and homelessness; ultimately leading to incarceration.
Research continues to draw a link between substance use and combat-related mental illness. Left untreated, mental health disorders common among veterans can directly lead to involvement in the criminal justice system. The statistics are alarming.
One in five veterans has symptoms of a mental health disorder or cognitive impairment.
One in six veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom suffer from a substance use issue.
But there is a solution. Veterans Treatment Courts (VTCs) are a strategy to give veterans the care they have earned while keeping them out of jail and giving them the tools they need to once again live as productive citizens.
The first Veterans Treatment Court was founded by the Honorable Robert Russell in Buffalo, New York in January, 2008, after he noticed an increase in the number of veterans appearing on his dockets. Judge Russell saw firsthand the transformative power of military camaraderie when veterans on his staff assisted a veteran in one of his treatment courts, but also recognized that more could be done to ensure veterans were connected to benefits and treatment earned through military service.
Veterans respond favorably to this structured environment, given their past experiences in the Armed Forces. However, a few will struggle, and it is exactly those veterans who need a veterans treatment court program the most. The VTC is able to ensure they meet their obligations to themselves, the court, and their community.
VTCs are tapping into the unique aspects of military and veteran culture and using them to the benefit of the veteran. Through these specialty courts, those who served in our nation’s Armed Forces are allowed to participate in the treatment court process with their fellow veterans, re-instilling the sense of camaraderie they felt while in the military.
Veterans Courts tailor substance abuse treatment, mandatory drug testing, sanctions and incentives, and other transitional services for military veterans who are substance abusers. The VTC requires regular court appearances and mandatory attendance at treatment sessions.
They also serve as a “one-stop-shop” to link veterans with services, benefits and program providers, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Service Organizations and volunteer veteran mentors. Volunteer veteran mentors from the community provide morale and motivational support.
Specialized Veterans Treatment Courts are effectively providing former members of the armed forces with the support and services they need.
According to a 2008 study, nearly half a million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. More than 300,000 struggle with substance abuse and an equal number are estimated to have suffered some form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). VTCs help to connect vets with essential health and other services and provide a sense of “mission” and a military support network that many participants in the courts say they lost when they returned to civilian life.
The men and women who serve our country deserve all the help we can provide them when they return home. Veterans Treatment Courts hold participants accountable, but they also allow veterans to receive the treatment and services they need to heal.