Bronx Veterans Treatment Courts (known as Veterans Court or Veterans Track in some jurisdictions) address these challenges in a forum that is conducive to veterans’ rehabilitation. Where available, Veterans Treatment Courts work with civilian healthcare providers, local veterans agencies, New York State Division of Veteran Affairs and the United States Department of Veteran Affairs.
They utilize veteran mentors and mental health specialists to complement probation services; and incorporate a therapeutic approach to afford veterans opportunities to transition into civilian life and regain stability.
Bronx Veterans Treatment Courts operate similarly to drug treatment and mental health courts, following 10 key operational standards:
- integrate alcohol, drug treatment and mental health services with justice system case processing
- use a non-adversarial approach where prosecution and defense counsel promote public safety while protecting veteran participants’ due process rights
- identify eligible participants early and promptly place them in the Bronx Veterans Treatment Court program
- provide access to a continuum of alcohol, drug, mental health and other related treatment and rehabilitation services
- monitor abstinence through frequent alcohol and other drug testing
- respond to veteran participants’ compliance through a coordinated strategy
- maintain essential, ongoing judicial interaction with each veteran
- measure achievement of program goals and gauge program effectiveness through monitoring and ongoing evaluation
- continue interdisciplinary education and promote effective Bronx Veterans Treatment Court planning, implementation and operations
- forge partnerships among Bronx Veterans Treatment Court, Veterans Administration, public agencies and community-based organizations, generate local support and enhance Veterans Treatment Courts effectiveness
Many veterans return from military service and find themselves facing unique personal challenges, including mental health problems or substance abuse, that they would not have faced but for their military service. Criminal behavior, mental health problems and substance abuse often stem directly from service in combat zones and may be amplified by re-entry into home life.
An essential component of the Bronx Veterans Treatment Court program is the Bronx Veterans Court Mentors program where BVCMentors act as peer support to veteran participants. Veterans are better served by having a support system that includes veterans who understand combat experience and the different aspects of military service. Mentors participate in a supportive relationship with participants to increase the likelihood that they will remain in treatment, attain and manage sobriety, maintain law-abiding behavior and successfully readjust to civilian life.