National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Veterans Treatment Courts: What You Need to Know
What are Veterans Treatment Courts?
Veterans Treatment Courts (VTC) are a court-based jail diversion program designed to address the mental health and substance abuse needs of veterans charged with one or more crimes. The program connects such veterans with to the benefits and treatment they have earned, and provides the essential tools for veterans to become productive members of society. The Veterans Treatment Court Program provides an alternative to going to jail.
The Veterans Treatments Court idea was first introduced by Judge Robert Russell, who started the first court in 2008 in Buffalo, New York. After noticing the number of veterans who were appearing in drug and mental health courts, Judge Russell partnered with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and several local agencies to start a court that could better address the needs of veterans. The VTC program has been successful in reducing recidivism, with recidivism rates below five percent in nearly all courts. Over 130 courts exist across the United States and many more are under development. To locate a VTC near you, visit the Justice for Vets website.
What are the key components of Veterans Treatment Courts?
A partnership of community agencies work to provide services aimed at addressing the needs of justice-involved veterans. The partnership actively engages in keeping veterans out of jail, and helping to ensure that families and communities are involved in supporting justice-involved veterans to ensure they are successful.
The Veterans Treatment Court model requires veterans to fulfill court-ordered requirements that vary by court. Typical programs last one to two years, and require the veteran to attend court regularly with direct interaction with the judge. Requirements may also include drug testing, mentors, counseling, support groups and much more. Utilizing a structured approach allows these individuals to participate in a program that mirrors military life.
Veterans Treatment Courts work for veterans, families and communities
Who is eligible for VTC?
An individual can participate in the VTC if he or she meets all of the following requirements:
What is the process to enter a VTC?
What is the VTC structure?
What happens after completion of VTC?
Related FilesVeterans Treatment Court Fact Sheet (PDF File)