Veterans Treatment Courts

Veterans Treatment Courts

Regular readers of these postings may have noticed my affinity for topics of particular relevance to veterans. Chalk that up to the fact that my father served as an Army medic in North Africa during World War II, while I, and a number of my friends, served during the Vietnam era. With Veterans Day approaching, I thought I would take this opportunity to provide some information about Veterans Treatment Courts in Michigan.

Military service, especially military service that involves armed conflict, has a way of changing all who serve, in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Veterans Treatment Courts (VTCs) are not courts in the typical sense, but a specialized problem-solving approach that recognizes not only the needs of society as served by our criminal justice system, but the unique circumstances of many returning veterans (and sometimes, active duty personnel). By integrating alcohol and drug treatment, and mental health services that promote sobriety, recovery, and stability for veterans who become involved in the criminal justice system, VTCs provide a coordinated response for veterans and their families. VTC programs focus not only on recovery, but the fostering of continued law-abiding behavior on the part of veterans who are accepted into a program.

VTCs can be found in many county circuit courts and local district courts and operate pursuant to ten key components set forth in Michigan law and federal guidelines. State, local and private funding, along with practical guidance, is available to assist any circuit or district court wishing to start a VTC program. Veterans Treatment Courts were codified in Michigan in 2012 as Act 335 of the Public Acts of 2012. The complete statute can be found at Michigan Compiled Laws Section 600.1200 through 1212. For more information on Michigan VTCs, along with other links of interest, check out the Michigan Courts website.

Veterans Day will be celebrated this upcoming Wednesday, November 11, 2015. For anyone looking for a meaningful way to mark the day, I would suggest the annual observance that will take place at 11:00 AM at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan. Music will be provided by the New Century Chorale, an outstanding group of local vocalists who give of their time every year to be part of this event.

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