BlueMax372 2010/10/20 17:07:21
Related Topics: Health, Treatment, Judge
By Kathleen Haughney
The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE -- Twenty-one years after Miami judges set up a diversion and treatment court specifically for drug offenders, Florida is poised to do the same for military veterans who have run afoul of the law.

Responding to studies that show many veterans face trouble once they return to civilian life, local officials and the courts are looking to expand alternative avenues to deal with criminal behavior while keeping veterans out of the traditional criminal justice system.

Since 2008, veterans' courts have been popping up around the country as scores of veterans have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from severe post traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Though veterans are not over-represented in the state's judicial system, a report produced by the Florida Senate found there is an unmet need for mental health services.

"Behaviors that were an asset in a combat theater can lead to undesirable involvement with the criminal justice system in a veteran's post-service civilian life," the report said.

"Veterans who do find themselves involved in the justice system often present mental health and substance use and abuse conditions or loss of cognitive function ability that can be treated."

The first veteran's court was established in Buffalo, NY, in January 2008. According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, there are now 41 similar programs nationwide. In Florida, Okaloosa County judges, prosecutors and local treatment professionals have already entered into an informal agreement that refers veterans' cases to a court docket with specific knowledge of veterans and veterans' issues.

In Palm Beach County, officials are hoping to have a similar system up and running by December.

The idea for the court is a softer criminal justice approach, one that focuses more on rehabilitation rather than incarceration of the nation's war veterans whose problems may stem from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of combat service.

"Veterans' courts are being established nationwide as a means of channeling veterans in the justice system into treatment programs in an effort to preclude further justice system involvement," the report said.

A spokesman for the [Florida] Senate said there was nothing in motion yet as far as the courts, but that the reports are requested because there is a general interest in the issue.

--www.staugustine.com, October 20, 2010, p. 1A
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  • seadog6608PWCM 2010/10/22 05:46:53
  • Roni 2010/10/21 22:27:13
    This is such a great idea! I hope they get something in motion here in Florida, and soon! We have to support the men and women who have been affected mentally (and physically) by their service to this country. We must do everything we can to help them!
  • BUCKY-- SKYNYRD 2010/10/21 16:08:01
    i think it's a good idea. PTSD is very real, and vets coming home from over-sea's should be treated in a different manor.
  • Captain Kirk~POTL 2010/10/21 01:25:36
    Captain Kirk~POTL
    Great post,BM!! Sounds like a great idea that should have been put into practice long ago!!
  • Pegasis 2010/10/20 19:25:35
    This is one bit of progress I can support wholeheartedly!
  • lalouisiane 2010/10/20 18:14:24
    If anybody in this country deserves some special treatment, it is our veterans.

    They have been through a lot for us and we owe them a debt for the remainder of their lives.

    The way we treat our veterans is a blight upon this country. They deserve a LOT more consideration and help when they return.
  • Heffeweizen 2010/10/20 17:17:13
    Interesting concept. That's the first I've heard of this, not a bad idea. Vets sometimes have issues that surface years later without warning.
  • BlueMax372 Heffewe... 2010/10/20 17:22:37
    The article is the first I've heard of it also. I'm wondering how it will stand up to the inevitable ACLU challenges based on the Equal Protection Clause.
  • Heffewe... BlueMax372 2010/10/20 17:25:17
    I'm biased, of course, but I think guys and gals who have fought and been wounded for their Country could be extended the courtesy of the benefit of the doubt.
  • BlueMax372 Heffewe... 2010/10/20 17:31:09
    I absolutely agree. I'm a bit of a pessimist though, and know what's coming from the LWNJs!
  • doofiegirl BTO-t- BCRA-F ~... 2010/10/20 17:16:59
    doofiegirl  BTO-t- BCRA-F ~PWCM~
    If something like this had been available 4 years ago, I might not have lost my son to suicide.
  • lalouis... doofieg... 2010/10/20 18:12:24
    OH God bless you. I am so sorry for your loss. I did not know.

    I think it is a very good idea. Those folks went through horror for us. So we can all sleep peacefully and securely at night.

    We don't do nearly enough for our veterans.
  • doofieg... lalouis... 2010/10/20 22:00:39
    doofiegirl  BTO-t- BCRA-F ~PWCM~
    Thanks, love. I know you didn't know.
  • lalouis... doofieg... 2010/10/20 22:17:33
    I'll keep you and your family in my prayers.
  • doofieg... lalouis... 2010/10/20 22:40:46
    doofiegirl  BTO-t- BCRA-F ~PWCM~
    Please! This has been a Very bad month! I'm just about broken!
  • lalouis... doofieg... 2010/10/20 22:45:53
    I'm going to pray for you right now and.. every time I think about you. You and your family. I pray that God will open a window in Heaven and His Holy and healing light will shine down upon you and take away some of your pain.

    I pray God will send angels from Glory to hold you up and give you strength.

    I pray that God will send extra angels to surround you and comfort you and your family. To hold steadfast with you and to ease your struggles here.

    I pray that God's Holiness will shine down upon you and your family and you will feel His peace.

    I thank God for this and for the blessings I know He will send your way.

  • doofieg... lalouis... 2010/10/20 22:55:16
    doofiegirl  BTO-t- BCRA-F ~PWCM~
    Thank you, love! Knowing I have people like you around is such a blessing! love people blessing
  • lalouis... doofieg... 2010/10/20 23:30:28
    That is a beautiful picture and the sentiment is powerful and true.
  • doofieg... lalouis... 2010/10/20 23:42:08
    doofiegirl  BTO-t- BCRA-F ~PWCM~
    If you ever need it, it's under friendship in the google section
  • lalouis... doofieg... 2010/10/21 00:04:47
    Thank you.
  • holly g... doofieg... 2010/10/20 21:48:05
    holly go lightly
    doofiegirl Hopefully this will be helpful to many others now .I am so sorry for your loss.
  • doofieg... holly g... 2010/10/20 21:59:11
    doofiegirl  BTO-t- BCRA-F ~PWCM~
    Thank you
  • holly g... doofieg... 2010/10/20 23:43:50
  • cocoa doofieg... 2010/10/21 00:17:22
    Bless you. I am so sorry for your loss and your pain.
  • Roni doofieg... 2010/10/21 22:33:30
    Your comment filled my throat and brought tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for your loss. As a mother, I couldn't even imagine being in your position, suffering such a tremendous loss. My heart goes out to you and your family!
  • doofieg... Roni 2010/10/21 23:04:25
    doofiegirl  BTO-t- BCRA-F ~PWCM~
    I can only say thank you. I know I Never want to go through that again!Can you understand what I mean when I say I had just lost my husband a few months before, and I was glad for the first time?
  • Roni doofieg... 2010/10/23 18:58:55
    To have the world kicked out from beneath you like that...losing a child just as you were coming back from losing your husband...it must have been devastating. I'm afraid I'd be curled up on the floor of a mental ward for years! You are a stronger woman than I.
  • seadog6... doofieg... 2010/10/22 05:45:47
  • doofieg... seadog6... 2010/10/22 10:16:51
    doofiegirl  BTO-t- BCRA-F ~PWCM~
    Thank you, love.
  • NidStyles doofieg... 2010/10/23 15:29:56
    My condolences for your loss.

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