Veterans Courts

Veterans Courts (Fla. Stat. §§ 948.16 and 948.21)
Veterans courts assist defendants with the complex treatment needs associated with substance abuse, mental health, and other issues unique to the traumatic experience of war. Some veterans returning home from war find it difficult to integrate back into the community due to untreated substance abuse or mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and thus find their return even more difficult, which sometimes leads to criminal activity.

By its name, veterans’ courts limit participation to both current and formal military members. Veterans courts involve the traditional participants in the court room – judge, prosecutor, public defender, probation, etc. – but also include a case manager and a treatment provider. Similarly, several veterans’ organizations, such as the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), also play a role. Importantly, at least one member of this team is someone with familiarity of both veteran and military culture, which helps when specific military issues arise.

Similarly, veterans’ courts include volunteer veteran mentors to assist their fellow veterans, and they provide many levels of support, such as helping the participant secure housing, employment, education, and transportation, to name a few. The goal is to get the participant in treatment and help them achieve sobriety in a non-adversarial setting.