Ten years ago, we recognized that veterans who end up in our criminal courts need help. Many suffer from PTSD, have difficulty readapting to civilian life, or fall into substance abuse. Regardless of the underlying issue that contributed to criminal behavior, we believed they shouldn’t have to deal with these burdens alone. That’s why the Ninth Circuit founded a specific court to address these issues while also holding them accountable – Veterans Treatment Court (VTC).
At its core, Veterans Treatment Court is a problem-solving court that aims to provide treatment and intervention rather than incarceration for veterans. Led by a team of professionals and overseen by a judge, the program offers treatment plans and resources like employment opportunities, job training, and education – all with the goal of successfully reintegrating its participants back into society.
As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, we reflect on the many lives that have been changed through the program. While continually seeking to adapt to the needs of our veteran community, VTC has seen its graduates go on to live better, well-equipped lives. The program not only significantly reduces the recidivism rates of participants, but it also helps prevent homelessness, promotes sobriety, and offers veterans the chance to mend relationships with their families. Similar to the experience of serving in the military, VTC participants find community through veteran peer mentors and find the strength to overcome those issues together. We are proud to say that today, ten years later, the program has reduced the recidivism rate at less than 10%.
Though the program has seen many changes over the years, the mission is still the same: to provide the support and resources our veterans need to maintain happy and healthy lives outside of the courts. This Veterans Day, we encourage all of you to think of the veterans in your lives and how you too, can honor them.