In a recent press release, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals' Justice For Vets said it was "honored" that support for the Veterans Treatment Courts was included in one of the 23 passed by The American Legion during its 2011 National Convention in Minneapolis.
Among other things, Resolution No. 109 urges Congress to continue to fund the establishment and expansion of Veterans Treatment Courts, and recommends the various Legion departments and posts provide non-monetary assistance and support to veteran treatment courts by having department service officers serve on the Veteran Treatment Court or having volunteers provide information on VA benefits and services.
"The American Legion is committed to help returning servicemembers in Veterans Treatment Courts to access their VA benefits," said Jacob Gadd, deputy director of the Legion's Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division. "We have more than 2,000 professionally trained service officers across the country, and we look forward to working with Justice For Vets to provide valuable training for our service officers to be active with Veteran Treatment Courts in their communities."
Veterans Treatment Courts operate similar to Drug Courts but serve only military veterans suffering from substance abuse and/or mental illness. They promote sobriety, recovery and stability through a coordinated response that involves cooperation and collaboration with the traditional community and criminal justice partners found in Drug Courts, with the addition of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care networks, the Veterans' Benefits Administration, state veterans agencies/departments, volunteer veteran mentors, veterans service organizations and veterans' family support groups. Since the first Veterans Treatment Court launched in January 2008, approximately 80 programs have been created with hundreds more being planned.
"The American Legion has been one of the mainstays of Veterans Treatment Court," said former Tulsa County Veterans Treatment Court Judge Sarah Smith. "Their members have enthusiastically embraced our program since its inception and helped numerous participants file claims, reinstate benefits and navigate the VA. Their encouragement, professionalism, and support have been a tremendous asset to our veterans and our team. All courts should reach out to The American Legion and other veterans service organizations in their community."
"So many veterans benefit by having Service Officers in court navigate and cut the red tape to receive the disability compensation, vocational rehabilitation, education benefits and other services earned through their time in our Armed Forces," said Matt Stiner, Justice For Vets Director of Development and Outreach. "With 14,000 posts worldwide, I have no doubt that all Veterans Treatment Courts have an American Legion Post within reach. We are profoundly proud of their support and look forward to seeing more Veterans Treatment Courts partnering with The American Legion to better serve our veterans." For questions about Veteran Treatment Courts, please contact the VA&R Division at (202)861-2700 or via email.