Justice For Vets Featured on NPR's Diane Rehm Show
This Veterans Day, Justice For Vets was honored to appear on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show. Millions of listeners across the nation tuned in to learn how Veterans Treatment Courts operate and why this critical program must be expanded throughout the country. The show featured Justice For Vets Director of Communications Director Chris Deutsch and Give an Hour founder and president Barbara Van Dahlen in studio. She show also featured General (ret.) Barry McCaffrey and Nick S, a graduate of Veterans Treatment Court who told his gripping story to millions of listeners.
Chris Deutsch: “About five years ago, a judge in Buffalo, N.Y. named Robert Russell created what is now known as Veterans Treatment Court. He was presiding over a drug court and a mental health court, and he saw increasing numbers of veterans coming through. Usually, they had never been arrested before, but they were diagnosed with substance abuse or mental health disorders. And he set about to really do something different with them. He started scheduling them all under the same docket, so all veterans on a criminal court docket. He brought in representatives from the local VA medical center, from veterans benefits.”
Barbara Van Dahlen: “The vast majority of men and women who serve come home, and they continue to lead great lives in their communities. They go on. But we know that, of the 2.6 million who have been in theater since these wars began, even if it's the lowest number, even if it's 12, 18 percent and you look at the ripple effects of that on their family members, on society in general, it's a huge number of people who are affected. And these are people who stepped up to serve so we would not assume that they all had some kind of mental health issue before they joined the service.”
Nick S.: “I went back to school. I got my bachelors. I'm now in grad school working on my graduate degree in public administration. And, you know, because I had found this solution to a problem that I thought there were no solutions to, I had dedicated my life to being a part of that solution. So I came back to the veterans treatment court. And I was hired a few months ago as a judicial assessment specialist. So now I go into the jails, I go out into the community, and I find veterans who are -- who would qualify for veterans treatment court. I evaluate them. I give recommendations to the judge. And I try -- my job is to try to speed up the process of finding a veteran who's in trouble and getting them treatment.”
General (ret.) Barry McCaffrey: “You essentially take a person at the moment of greatest despair. They're under arrest. You know, in many cases they're devastated financially. They're unemployed. They've lost their children and you put them in a Veterans Treatment Court. For many of these folks…the judge is the first person they've ever encountered who has both extreme authority and who also cares about them.”
To listen to the segment, or to view a transcript, click here.
Veterans Day Media Coverage for Veterans Treatment Court
Below is a sample of media coverage Veterans Treatment Courts received on Veterans Day.
Allen County Courts Extend Helping Hand To Military Veterans In Trouble With Law – Allen County, IN
Pushing recovery over punishment for military veterans in trouble with the law. The Allen County court system breaks new ground in Indiana when it comes to dealing with offenders who've served our country. More than a million servicemen and women are coming home after logging tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many are battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, along with other challenges related to active duty, which can put them in hot water with the criminal justice system.
One generation of vets helps new group – Jefferson County, KY
Wayne Martin had a hard time adjusting when he returned home from Vietnam in 1972. He became an alcoholic, nearly lost his job and went through two divorces.Now sober for 25 years, retired from a 37-year career and remarried, the former Army soldier is helping the next generation of veterans move beyond similar mistakes by serving as a mentor in the Jefferson County Veterans Treatment Court program.
Nearing 1-year anniversary, Veterans Treatment Court ‘far exceeds’ expectations – Racine, WI
Just shy of its one-year anniversary, proponents of far southeastern Wisconsin’s first treatment court for military veterans celebrated its successes on Tuesday while honoring the nation’s veterans. “Today it is our day to say ‘thank you,’ ” Army veteran Glenn Scheuerman said Tuesday during a ceremony commemorating Veterans Day and marking the first anniversary this week of a special treatment court.
Gazette opinion: Court supports veterans’ battle for sobriety – Yellowstone County, MT
The U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps were honored last week in Yellowstone County District Court. With flags of the four military branches posted near the bench, Judge Mary Jane Knisely led the crowd in the pledge of allegiance. The room was packed with Yellowstone County Veterans Treatment Court participants — 27 veteran soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen.
In our opinion: Veterans deserve more support against PTSD – Salt Lake City, UT
It's customary on Veterans Day to stage events reflecting national pride and appreciation for those who served in the military. This year, there also is an opportunity to recognize advances made over the last decade to help a large number of veterans suffering from a condition that previously was largely misunderstood and often ignored.
Team gives veterans a second chance at life – Portage, IN
At 63, Paul Hake said he is a new man. And, he said, he credits a team of people with the Porter County Veterans Treatment Court for turning his life around. "It has changed my life completely," said Hake, 63, of Porter, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam. "My problem was alcohol. It is gone now and I got my life back."
Veterans courts focus on treatment, not jail time – Elmira, NY
Shelly Kipp doesn’t blame the U.S. Army for her addictions or the trouble she had with the law after she was honorably discharged in 1991. Even before joining the Army, “I definitely was an alcoholic, but I had no idea at that time,” Kipp said recently by phone from Hudson, N.Y., along the Hudson River in western Columbia County, where she lives now. “I drank every day. I thought it was normal. Not until after I got out of the service did I get into trouble.”
Veterans Treatment Court in Santa Barbara Graduates First Class – Santa Barbara, CA
With a few words spoken by Judge Jean Dandona from the stage at the Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Barbara on Friday, five veterans sitting in the audience below had the criminal charges they were facing dismissed. Those charges were dropped, signaling that the first class of veterans treatment court in Southern Santa Barbara County had graduated. Steve Lopez and Michael Goodwin, who served in the U.S. Army, Ted Johnson and Glenn Merrifield, who served in the U.S. Navy, and Mark Odorfer of the U.S. Air Force were among the graduates.
Veterans Find Love During Addiction Treatment – Cincinnati, OH
Cherie Ferguson Andrews has stood at many thresholds over the past few years as shefought to rejoin the human race. "You're coming off the streets. You're not feeling good about yourself, and you've not accomplished anything in years," the U.S. Army veteran said of her years-long addiction to crack cocaine.