President Trump today signed U.S. Senator Martha McSally’s (R-AZ) bipartisan legislation to expand veteran treatment courts across the nation into law.
“These courts have turned veterans’ lives around in Arizona, and now they will be able to do the same for veterans across our nation,” said McSally. “Many veterans return from war with invisible wounds that can result in addiction and behavioral manifestations. We owe them the chance to recover and succeed. Veteran treatment courts allow vets to find healing, plus accountability from fellow vets while reconnecting with their military core values. The results we’ve seen in Arizona’s treatment courts have been astounding and I look forward to the success stories we will begin hearing across the nation as this program spreads.”
Veteran treatment courts work in tandem with the traditional criminal justice system to help rehabilitate veterans who have committed non-violent misdemeanor crimes while transitioning back to civilian life. Through these courts, veterans struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues enroll in recovery programs designed to set them on a path to success.
The Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act of 2019 establishes a program in coordination with the Department of Veterans Affairs, to help state, local and tribal governments to develop and maintain veteran treatment courts. The bill would provide grants, training, and technical assistance for veteran treatment courts and communities interested in starting a program.
U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tina Smith (D-MN), Rick Scott (R-FL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) are cosponsors of the legislation.
- On July 21, 2020, McSally’s Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act passed the House of Representatives by unanimous consent.
- On January 17, 2020, McSally’s Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act unanimously passed the Senate.
- On November 5, 2019, McSally introduced the Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act of 2019.
- Veterans treatment courts have seen great success in Arizona. In 2009, Tucson City Court Judge and Marine veteran Michael Pollard founded the Tucson Veterans Treatment Court, which has now expanded to be the Regional Municipalities Veterans Treatment Court. The Court has served over 986 veterans from January 2013 through September 2019. Of those, over 759 veterans graduated from their treatment program.
- Veteran treatment courts provide staff members not traditionally available in the court system. Judges, local VA officials, veteran organizations, prosecutors, public defenders, and other community organizations work directly with veterans to ensure successful treatment.
- The first treatment court was formed in New York in 2008. Now, over 450 veteran treatment courts and dockets across the U.S. have helped veterans navigate drug, mental health and criminal courts.