Many veterans return to civilian life and find themselves facing personal challenges, including mental health problems or substance use, that are unique to life after military service. Criminal behavior, mental health problems and substance abuse often stem directly from service in combat zones and may be amplified by reentry into civilian life. Research continues to draw a link between substance use disorders with service-related mental illness. Veterans Treatment Courts (VTC) offer a solution by connecting justice-involved veterans to appropriate services in a court setting, surrounded by an interdisciplinary team. These include the judge, court staff, prosecutors, treatment/service providers, defense attorneys, probation, law enforcement, volunteer veteran peer mentors, and representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Services, all of whom work collaboratively to help veterans.
Realizing that veterans have special needs that were not being adequately served, Buffalo City Court created the first VTC in 2008. VTCs (known as Veterans Court or Veterans Track in some jurisdictions) address these challenges in a forum that is helpful to veterans’ rehabilitation. Where available, VTCs work with civilian healthcare providers, local veterans service agencies, the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services and the U.S. 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.
It is important to note that VTCs accept veterans with all characters of military discharge.
For further information on Problem-Solving Courts or if you would like to schedule a court visit, please contact the Division of Policy and Planning at: ProblemSolving@nycourts.gov