Veterans Courts

The first veteran’s court opened in Buffalo, N.Y. in 2008. The veteran’s court model is based on drug treatment and/or mental health treatment courts. Substance abuse or mental health treatment is offered as an alternative to incarceration.  Typically, veteran mentors assist with the programs. An important issue that has to be addressed is the eligibility for veteran’s courts in terms of whether charges involving felonies or crimes of violence will be allowed. The inclusion of offenders charged with inter-family violence is also of grave concern to policy makers.

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.

Featured Links

  • Veterans Court Inventory Update. (2016). The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs counted 461 veteran-focused court programs in the U.S. as of June 30, 2016. Of the 461 programs, 116 were created in 2015. This fact sheet contains these facts and more data from the 2016 census.
  • Spokane Veterans Forum. The Spokane Veterans Forum (SVF) holds monthly meetings where veterans share a meal and attend educational or therapeutic programs. All of the veterans referred from regional Veterans Enhanced Therapeutic Courts at the Spokane County District Court, including those from Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties, attend the monthly meetings. The SVF website provides reference materials used for the monthly forums and includes a link to their 2017 Mentor Handbook.
  • DOJ Grants in 2016. (September 2016) The Department of Justice announced over $4 million in grants to veteran's courts. Awardees include: Kansas 10th Judicial District Court; the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Louisiana; Roseau County and Anoka County, both in Minnesota; Miami-Dade County, Florida; City of Norfolk, Virginia, Community Service Board; the Judiciary Courts of the State of Montana; Missouri 22nd Judicial Circuit, St. Louis City Drug Court; the Riverside, California, County Probation Department and the Superior Court of California, County of Solano; Denton County, Texas; La Crosse, Wisconsin, Area Veterans Court; and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.
  • Cheesman, Fred L. (Project Director) Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Veterans Treatment Court Performance Measures. (May 2015).  NCSC.  This is the first set of performance measures specifically designed for Veterans Treatment Courts and they are designed to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of Pennsylvania's Veterans Treatment Courts.
  • Moore, Hon. Eileen C. A Mentor in Combat Veterans Court: Observations and Challenges. (2012). Future Trends in State Courts. Mentoring is nothing new, but mentoring in a combat veterans court by fellow combat veterans is new. This article comments on the role mentors play in a veterans court, mentor training, and the need for the development of mentor training specific to women.
  • Russell, Hon. Robert T. Veterans Treatment Courts Developing Throughout the Nation. (2009). Future Trends in State Courts. This article discusses the growing number of veterans with a history of mental illness or substance abuse have been appearing in courts and how courts have begun to develop and implement veterans treatment courts to help veterans get their lives back on track.
  • Focus: Veterans' Courts. (February 2009). Gavel to Gavel. A review of state legislation dealing with veterans' courts.

Development of Veterans Courts

Federal Legislation

  • Finnerty, John Veterans courts in line for funding. (March 2012). The Daily Item. Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus P. McCaffery testified before Congress in support of a measure that would make federal grant funding available to state and local governments to establish Veterans Treatment Courts across the country.
  • Justice Department Funds More Than $1 Million to Veteran Treatment Courts. (November 2011). The Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) plans to support four drug courts designed to meet veterans' needs in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 under the Adult Discretionary Drug Court Program.


State Related Materials