As a combat veteran of the war in Iraq, I applaud the effort in Lucas County to join more than 100 other jurisdictions throughout the country in creating a veterans treatment court (“Local veterans court proposed; Officials in Novi, Mich., program hail lives turned around,” Nov. 11). This proactive solution for veterans struggling on the home front will save lives and critical tax dollars.
Ohio has the sixth largest veterans population in the country, and Lucas County has one of the largest populations of veterans in the state. Judge William Connelly of Toledo Municipal Court is taking the right approach in pushing for identifying veterans in the criminal justice system.
Although most veterans are strengthened by their military service, some struggle with substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and traumatic brain injury stemming from combat.
The downward spiral can be quick and destructive, and often leads to arrest. When it does, we must ensure that veterans have the opportunity to get their lives back on track in veterans treatment court.
Veterans treatment courts are not an experiment. They are modeled after drug courts, which for two decades have been the nation’s most successful criminal justice program for addicted offenders. Nearly 75 percent of drug court graduates are never arrested again, and the program saves as much as $12,000 per participant per year.
In my work with veterans treatment courts nationwide, I have seen addicted, mentally ill, unemployed, and even suicidal veterans transformed into productive members of the community. Veterans are held accountable, but they also receive the benefits and treatment they have earned.
Veterans treatment courts are local criminal justice reform in action. They not only save taxpayer money, but also protect public safety while restoring the lives of our veterans.
Justice for Vets
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