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Veterans Treatment Court will help vets in addiction, mental-health cases

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 2:07 pm

Veterans who run into trouble with the law in Allen County may have an alternative that helps them tackle addiction or mental-health problems.

Allen Circuit Judge Thomas Felts and Allen Superior Judge Frances Gull on Tuesday announced the creation of the Joint Veterans Treatment Court for Allen County.

Although there are more than 100 veterans treatment courts in the United States, they said, this is the first in Indiana, as far as they know. The plan, first described in The News-Sentinel in July, aims to help veterans who have been charged with crimes related to mental illness or drug addiction.

A key part of the effort will be connecting veterans with resources they may not be using or even be aware of. An example: Gull mentioned that she’s shocked by how many veterans with dire needs still aren’t tapping the Veterans Administration medical system for help.

The first session of the Veterans Treatment Court will be held in both Superior and Circuit courts Tuesday afternoon, the judges said.

The judges said veterans treatment courts combine rigorous treatment and accountability for veterans facing incarceration due to charges stemming from substance abuse and/or mental health issues. They promote sobriety, recovery and stability through a coordinated response and the understanding that the bonds of military service and combat run deep.

The courts have created partnerships with many community partners, the judges said, including the Veterans Administration, Veterans Justice Outreach, the Vet Center, Allen County Veterans Services, the Associated Churches, Family Assistance Specialists with the Indiana National Guard, among others.