Veterans Treatment Court within the State of Michigan
The main idea behind Veterans Treatment Court is to provide veterans, and sometimes active-duty personnel, a way to seek help without incarceration. Roughly 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans came home with post-traumatic stress disorder, and national statistics show in 2004 that 1 in every 10 inmates served in the military, which equates to 200,000 veterans behind bars. Veterans Treatment Court provides the resources needed to get Veterans the help they need.
Veterans’ treatment court uses the integration of drug court and mental health court principles to help serve military veterans, and occasionally active-duty personnel. Veterans’ Treatment Court aim to promote sobriety, recovery, and stability through a process that involves collaboration with the traditional partners found in drug courts and mental health courts, as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare networks, Veterans Benefits Administration, state Departments of Veterans Affairs, volunteer mentors, and organizations that support veterans and veterans’ families (Office of National Drug Control Policy, 2010) are a combination of Drug and Mental Health Courts that serve veterans struggling with addiction, serious mental illness and co-occurring disorders. Veterans’ Treatment Courts also rely on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care networks, the Veterans’ Benefits Administration, volunteer veteran mentors, and veterans and veterans’ family support organizations.
The veterans’ court looks for service members and veterans that find themselves in trouble with the criminal justice system because of criminal behavior resulting from their physical and mental injuries from combat, PTSD, or TBI. Eligible veterans are found through evidence based screening and assessments. Usually, offenders who are transferred to this court have committed a misdemeanor. Participation in the veterans’ court is voluntary on the part of the defendant and must be approved by the prosecutor and/or judge. The court wants to divert eligible veteran-defendants with substance dependency and mental illness to the specialized Veterans’ Treatment Court docket in order to ensure Veterans get the help they need. The court needs to determine its process for identifying eligible veterans, which can include evidence-based screening and assessments. All courts handle business differently, and may have their own certain requirements for their Veterans Treatment Court.
It is anticipated that most Veterans Treatment Court participants will suffer from substance
dependence, and substance abuse. However, such dependence should not be a pre-requisite for entry. Each
participant should have an individualized treatment and legal requirements plan.
Each applicant is viewed separately. There is not a cookie-cutter, black and white judgement system on who gets in the program, and who does not. Rather, each individual must go through several screenings and assessments to determine if they are eligible or not. Some examples of program requirements are listed below:
-Abstinence from alcohol and/or illegal drugs
-Consumption of prescription medications only as prescribed 10
Developing and Implementing a Veterans’ Treatment Court in Michigan
-Submission up to twice daily Preliminary Breath Tests and/or agreement to participate in
SCRAM or VISITEL monitoring system
-Submit to random urine screens that are neither diluted nor altered
-Participate in in-patient treatment at the Veterans Administration
-Attend Intensive Individual Out-patient substance dependence treatment (IOP)
-Comply with treatment recommendations of the Veterans Treatment Court treatment
provider and VA and/or Vets’ Center tailored to the participant’s particular mental and/or
physical conditions (e.g., counseling for PTSD or associated adjustment disorders, Anger
Management, Family Counseling, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for antisocial behaviors,
Rehabilitation Counseling for TBI)
-Attend the number of community based support groups per week that the Court orders
-Establish a relationship with community-based Mentor assigned to you by the Court
-Obtain an AA sponsor
-Perform the hours of community service Ordered by the Court
-Pay fines and costs and/or costs of the program requirements
-Pay restitution as ordered
-Meet with your probation officer as directed
-Attend court sessions with other Veterans Treatment Court participants
-Find and maintain employment if able to work and not retired
-Abide by a curfew
-Abide by requirement that you will not possess any weapons (including service
memorabilia) while in the Veterans Court Treatment Program if you are a felon or violent
misdemeanant and disclose the presence of any weapons possessed by anyone in your
-Comply with a Court Order to not have contact with specified individuals, their families,
or place of employment
-Obtain and maintain appropriate housing
-Allow random home visits by a court agent and/or police officer who may or may not be
accompanied by your mentor
-Begin to develop healthy living plan which includes coping strategies, good cognitive
behavior, and additional tools for recovery.
NOTE – Medical Marijuana Use
New to the area of treatment courts is the allowable use of medical marijuana to treat certain
medical conditions. Since this new area is only developing in Michigan, substantiated
uncertainly and disagreement is probably expected. . As anticipated, the VA has changed its stance of prohibitions, allowing veterans receiving treatment to use marijuana, so long as in accordance with state law. So it will be up to each individual treatment court to determine its own stance toward the use of medical
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