Veterans Day Media

Justice For Vets wishes to thank all of the men and women who have served this nation in the Armed Forces. Your service and sacrifice strengthens each and every one of us and we remain grateful for all you do at home to impact communities.

At Justice For Vets we believe that one of the ways we can honor veterans is to ensure that those who struggle receive the treatment they have earned. We are so proud to announce that the Veterans Treatment Court community is now serving over 13,000 veterans in 264 Veterans Treatment Courts!

All week, Veterans Treatment Courts have been highlighted as a critical solution. Here is a sample of the coverage they recieved, starting with a riveting interview on Huffington Post Live with Melissa Fitzgerald and Silver Star Recipient, Veterans Treatment Court graduate and Independence Fund CEO Tommy Rieman.

Veterans Fought For Our Freedom. Shouldn't We Fight For Theirs?
by Melissa Fitzgerald, Justice For Vets

On December 3, 2003, Sgt. Tommy Rieman and his team were on a reconnaissance mission in Iraq when his convoy came under heavy enemy fire. Tommy used his body to protect his men; he was shot twice and suffered 11 shrapnel wounds. Despite his injuries, Tommy refused medical help, took charge and moved the convoy out of the line of fire. For his actions, Tommy was awarded the Silver Star, and he came home to a hero's welcome. He was also acknowledged by President Bush during the 2007 State of the Union Address and given a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. Read more.


Justice for Vets works to help those brave Americans who have fought for our freedom
by Melissa Fitzgerald, Justice For Vets

Our veterans are one of our nation’s greatest and most valuable assets. The vast majority of our veterans are strengthened by their military service, but everyone’s path to returning home is not the same. Some veterans need our help. In 2007, a Buffalo, NY judge named Robert Russell began seeing an increase in the number of veterans appearing on his Drug Court and Mental Health Court dockets. Many veterans he saw were battling severe mental health issues, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and physical issues such as Traumatic Brian Injury. In many cases these conditions were exacerbated by substance abuse, in others substance abuse was the primary concern. Read more.


Leaving No Veterans Behind
by Melissa Fitzgerald, Justice For Vets

Today, there are 13,200 veterans receiving life-saving treatment in Veterans Treatment Court. In February, the Community Mental Health Journal released the first published study on Veterans Treatment Court finding that veterans participating in these programs experienced significant improvement with depression, PTSD and substance abuse as well as with critical social issues including housing, emotional well-being, relationships and overall functioning. The study also found that mentoring from volunteer veterans is particularly effective. Veterans who receive mentoring not only experience better clinical outcomes, they report feeling more socially connected. Read more.


Is it time for N.J. to establish courts only for veterans?

As New Jersey prepares to honor military veterans Wednesday, state officials are taking the first steps that could provide one thing many veterans say has been missing for them when they return home — justice in context of their service. A state task force looking at veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and their involvement in the legal system heard its first testimony last week. Members hope the process will lead to the establishment of veterans treatment courts, which are designed to consider the psychological trauma many veterans experience and how to help them, issues often overlooked in the current court system. Read more.


Special courts trying to help veterans


‘Given another chance’: Alternative courts help returning vets in trouble with the law

At first glance, former Army Staff Sgt. Tommy Rieman had it all -- a hero's story, a seat next to the president at the State of the Union Address, even an action figure modeled after him. But like many combat veterans home from war, all was not what it seemed. Post-traumatic stress from his time in Iraq forced Rieman to self-medicate with pills and booze, and his home life was spinning out of control. Read more.


Finding Justice for Veterans

Left on their own, many veterans suffering from these mentally debilitating symptoms self-medicate, or depend solely on psychotropic drugs doled out by the VA. Many sustained physical injuries in the war, too, and have been on pain medications since they were overseas. It’s hard to keep a job in this spiral, and family relationships suffer. Some eventually steal and deal to feed their habits. They get into fights, carry weapons, or drive drunk. “The vast majority of veterans are strengthened by their military service, but not everyone’s journey is the same,” says Melissa Fitzgerald, whose own journey from Hollywood (“The West Wing”), eventually took her to Justice for Vets, the leading advocate for the Veterans Treatment Courts (VTC). Read more.


Justice system supports vets

Earl “Gunny” Christensen couldn’t celebrate Independence Day after returning home from active duty because the fireworks “sounded like incoming enemy fire.” The decorated Vietnam War veteran had learned to cope using alcohol over the years, and nearly 25 years after being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, he was arrested for OWI and ordered to complete the Ingham County Veterans Treatment Court (ICVTC) program in the 54B District Court. Read more.


Court alternative program offers York County veterans a second chance

Driving was always an escape from the stresses of life for Paul Radford. When the Fort Mill resident medically retired as a sergeant from the U.S. Army in 2011 after seven years of service, Radford said the constant threat of roadside bombs made him even more of a defensive driver. “It took me a while to ride with other people, and that’s why I always drove,” he said. “I felt safe with me driving.” Read more


Leave no veteran behind

Left untreated, mental health disorders common among veterans, such as traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, can directly lead to homelessness and involvement in the criminal justice system. The good news is that these statistics change for the better each year. The bad news is America still has a lot more work to do for our veterans. Recognizing that these brave men and women are victims of a broken system and need our help, rather than our censure, I started the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Veterans Treatment Court in 2010. Read more.


Court Program Helping Veterans