CBS News Highlights Veterans Treatment Courts on Veterans Day
In honor of Veterans Day, CBS News is shining the spotlight on the Philadelphia Veterans Treatment Court and Justice For Vets in a report For Veterans in legal trouble, special courts can help.
Judge Patrick Dugan, a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves JAG Corps, who also presides over the Philadelphia Veterans Treatment Court, explained how Veterans Treatment Courts operate and added that the requirements demanded by Veterans Treatment Courts are much more stringent than what a typical criminal defendant experiences.
"What I want our veteran defendants to understand is, if you're coming into my courtroom, you need to be ready to go to treatment. You need to be ready to address the underlying issues that cause the criminal behavior," said Judge Dugan who also explained that Veterans Treatment Courts save money. “It's kind of like a one-stop shop for veteran services. We're streamlining, because on a county level, we now have the federal government in the courtroom to offer services."
CBS walks viewers through the origin of the first Veterans Treatment Court in Buffalo, New York in 2008 and the exponential growth of these life saving courts. Today there are nearly 200 Veterans Treatment Courts across the country serving more than 10,000 veterans who would otherwise be incarcerated. CBS also features video of the volunteer veterans mentor corp at the swearing-in ceremony during Vet Court Con.
"It's really about the struggle re-integrating after experiencing the trauma of war," said Melissa Fitzgerald, Senior Director of Justice For Vets. "We have more than 23 million vets now," she added. "These courts ensure that when veterans return home, they have access to the structure, treatment, and mentoring they need to get their lives back on track."
Former Marine, Pearson Crosby, is currently enrolled in the Philadelphia Veterans Court program. Crosby stated that the Veterans Treatment Court is beneficial because "you're held accountable for how you live."
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