Veterans Treatment Court may not be something you've heard about in the past, but it's actually a very important court in Texas. It is a court that suggests that the people who have served in the military have different experiences than the general public. As such, the traditional court, with community services of various types, may not be suited to these veterans.
Instead, the Veterans Treatment Court focuses on helping veterans with problems such as DWIs or mental health concerns. The courts use a team-based approach to make sure veterans get the help they need in an appropriate manner. The goal is to treat any underlying problem that could lead to criminal behavior.
When was the Veterans Treatment Court established?
The Veterans Treatment Court was established in 2009 during the 81st Legislature. Known as Senate Bill 1940, the bill established special courts for veterans located in Texas. This is just one additional type of "problem-solving" court located in Texas. Others include mental-health courts or drug courts.
Who is eligible to enter the Veterans Treatment Court for assistance?
Anyone who is a veteran and who has been arrested for a felony or misdemeanor may be eligible to enter the alternative Veterans Treatment Court program. However, the state attorney has to deem that the veteran is a good fit for the program and that the veteran suffers from a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other disorder or mental illness as a result of serving in the military. In addition, these conditions need to have been a factor leading up to the criminal act.
Here's an example. If an individual suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, they may have sudden flashbacks or hallucinations. If this happens when they're driving, they might cause an accident. If they're facing a misdemeanor or felony as a result of the crash, they might also be a good fit for the court program, since it would aim to help treat the underlying cause of the person's actions.
Once approved for the program, veterans typically spend between 12 and 18 months completing it. The program, a three-level system, starts with biweekly visits to court. As time moves forward and individuals progress, the appearances may be reduced. At the end of the treatment program, there is a potential for the individuals to have the criminal act dismissed, so it does not have any further effect on their lives.