For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 19

T

he first Veterans Court was established
in Buffalo, New York in 2008 by the
Honorable Robert T. Russell after finding
that veterans are a niche population with unique
needs. Service members have shared experiences
that are uncommon among non-military peers,
which makes participation in traditional drug
and mental health courts difficult. Veterans Court
links the justice system involved veteran with
service providers who understand the experience
of military service, military life and the distinctive
needs which may arise from that experience.1
In 2004, an estimated 206,500 or (9%) of
all inmates in the United States serving time in
federal, state, and local prisons were veterans.2
By 2011-2012 that number decreased to an
estimated 181,500, or (8%) of all inmates.3 This
trend may be attributable to the overall reduction
of veterans in the general population,4 in part
caused by the United States not having a military
draft in over 40 years, but a likely contributing
factor is the advent and implementation of
Veterans Courts.
The first two Veterans Courts in Pennsylvania
were established in 2009 in Allegheny and
Lackawanna Counties.5 Since that time, Veterans
Courts have been established in 18 other
counties6 with Luzerne County maintaining a
veteran track in its adult drug and mental health
courts.7 A regional drug court was established
in 2017 encompassing Elk, Forest and Jefferson
Counties which also has a veteran track.8
Veterans Court is not limited to the Court
of Common Pleas.9 In 2011, the Administrative
Offices of Pennsylvania Courts established a
Magisterial District Court "Veteran's Diversion
Program." This program is designed to permit
Magisterial District Judges to divert justice system
involved veterans with summary offenses to the
Department of Veteran Affairs for treatment. If,
after six months, the veteran has been compliant
with treatment and has no further justice system
contact, his or her case will be dismissed. As of

September 12, 2017, there were 14 counties
operating the Magisterial District Court
Program.10
In its simplest form, Veterans Court is a
marriage of adult drug and mental health courts.
Like those courts, Veterans Court follows the
essential ten key principles described in the U.S.
Department of Justice Publication, "Defining
Drug Court: The Key Components."11 These
components are modified to acknowledge and
accommodate those issues which make the
veteran population unique.12
Veterans Courts promote "sobriety,
recovery and stability through a coordinated
response that involves collaboration by
mobilizing the Department of Veterans Affairs
healthcare networks, the VA's Veterans Benefits
Administration, state departments or divisions of
veteran's affairs, veteran's service organizations
and other community entities that support
veterans and their families, and veterans who
serve as volunteer peer mentors."13 The ideal
purpose is to divert the justice system involved
veteran population when the service related
mental health or drug and alcohol issues lead to
criminal involvement.
When one thinks of veterans who may utilize
Veterans Courts the first thing that comes to
mind are those suffering from Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder ("PTSD"). There are two types of
military PTSD.14 The first is the most commonly
known and stems from combat or being exposed
to horrible and life-threatening experiences.
PTSD varies by service era but it is estimated that
11 to 20 out of every 100 veterans of Operations
Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD
in a given year.15 That number is 12% in a given
year for Gulf War veterans and 15% for Vietnam
veterans. But, it is estimated that 30% have had
PTSD in their lifetime.16 Other combat stressors
which may contribute to PTSD and other mental
health issues are: what the person experienced
in the war, the politics around the war, where the

Vol. 3, Issue 1

l

For The Defense

19



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018

Contents
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 1
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 2
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - Contents
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 4
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 5
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 6
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 7
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 8
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 9
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 10
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 11
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 12
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 13
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 14
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 15
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 16
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 17
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 18
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 19
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 20
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 21
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 22
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 23
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 24
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 25
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 26
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 27
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 28
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 29
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 30
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 31
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 32
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 33
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 34
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 35
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 36
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 37
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 38
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 39
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 40
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 41
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 42
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 43
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 44
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 45
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 46
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 47
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 48
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 49
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 50
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For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 52
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 53
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 54
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 55
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 56
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