Veterans pay the cost for our freedom. This is a sacrifice that extends far beyond active duty in the military. Our men and women in uniform, both home and abroad, are exposed to difficulties which can manifest as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This disorder may result in flashbacks, avoidance, aggression, and sometimes substance abuse issues as veterans seek to escape the pain or memories stemming from combat. According to studies published by Veterans’ Affairs, 10 to 15 percent of veterans from Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD.
PTSD is just one example of how being in a combat zone can affect members of the military. There are many others, including brain injuries, mental illnesses, and stress disorders. While not every case of PTSD gets reported, the following statistics show how prevalent PTSD is among servicemen and women who return home:
Unfortunately, PTSD and other issues, often land veterans in trouble with the law. Fortunately, there is a program in Tarrant County for veterans facing criminal charges that focuses on rehabilitation, rather than incarceration. Over the years, Tarrant County Veteran’s Court Diversion Program has been covered extensively, including by the Mental Health Channel which produced this very informative video below.
Tarrant County is fortunate to have Judge Brent Carr, a veteran himself, who presides over the Tarrant County Veteran’s Court Diversion Program. With Judge Carr’s oversight, this program is exceptionally successful and has become a model for other veteran court diversion programs throughout the state.
The Veteran’s Court Program exists for veterans who have returned to Tarrant County from active duty and been diagnosed with a mental illness, such as PTSD, which resulted in subsequent criminal conduct. If accepted into the program, veterans are monitored through a probationary period by officials experienced in handling veteran affairs. If completed successfully, a veteran’s case is ultimately dismissed. As Judge Carr told KERA, this Program is not intended to be a free pass. It does, however, give qualifying veterans an opportunity to get back on the right track.
While there are limitations on the types of offenses that qualify for entry into the Veteran’s Court Program, this program focuses on treatment of the underlying reasons for the criminal behavior. This may include counseling, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, monitoring, and drug screens. The Veteran’s Court Diversion Program also provides rehabilitation through Veteran’s Assistance.
Thank you to all of our veterans for your service. Thank you to Judge Brent Carr for your vision and leadership. Thank you also to Courtney Young who oversees the day-to-day operations of the program.
The Veterans Court Diversion Program provides judicially supervised treatment options for Justice–Involved Veterans (JIV) currently facing prosecution for one or more criminal offenses. The program focuses on removing JIV from the traditional criminal justice process and placing them in more rehabilitative options. To enter the program, the JIV must been screened, assessed, and approved. Once that process is complete, the JIV will begin the treatment program tailored to his/her needs.
It’s important to point out that a mental illness or mental disorder is no longer a pre-requisite for Veteran’s Court. Government Code 124.002 was expanded to allow consideration of circumstances of the defendant’s conduct, personal and social background, and criminal history.
The mission is to successfully habilitate the JIV by diverting them from the traditional criminal justice system and providing them with the tools they need to lead a productive and law-abiding lifestyle while improving mental health recovery and successful re-entry into the community. The program’s goals are to find JIV, assess their needs, offer assistance, manage their care, and provide them with successful treatment options ultimately leading to community reintegration, and resolution of their criminal case(s).
As former Tarrant County prosecutors who were involved in diversion programs and served in Judge Carr’s court, we are uniquely positioned to maximize your chances of entry into the program. We have assisted a number of veterans enter the Veterans Court Program in Tarrant County. For more information on how our attorneys can help you, call us at (817) 203-2220 or contact us online.