May 13, 2020
According to the Veterans Administration, “…PTSD and substance use problems are strongly related in people who served in the military and in civilians. Some people try to cope with PTSD symptoms by drinking heavily, using drugs, or smoking too much. People who have problems with drugs or alcohol are also more likely to develop PTSD.”
To address the crimes associated with PTSD and substance abuse, many localities created Veterans Treatment Courts (VTC). A VTC is a specialized court modeled after drug courts and mental health courts. In the decade since the first court was created in Buffalo in 2008, the use of VTC has expanded dramatically. The National Drug Court Resource Center reports that as of June 2018 there were approximately 400 such courts in the United States. These courts have the advantage of an interdisciplinary approach and usually a judge with an understanding of the issues and services available to this population. The cases that can be heard in VTC vary by county and state, but many VTC exclude defendant-veterans accused of violent crimes.
While the National Center for State Courts does not maintain a listing of all 400+ courts, it does provide resources to support the creation and usage of these courts, including:
- Veterans Treatment Courts, discusses the services available for participants of the VTC to treat the underlying causes: substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, housing services and access to benefits.
- Veterans Treatment Courts Developing Throughout the Nation, concludes VTC are a valuable tool for the criminal justice system to help our nation’s veterans address their issues while also improving public safety.
For more information, contact Knowledge@ncsc.org or call 800-616-6164.