By Timothy L. Graves, Esq.
When a member of the armed forces is found to be guilty of a crime in a military court, they are often times discharged for bad conduct. This discharge can eliminate the possibility of the former soldier receiving medical or mental rehabilitative treatment for a problem that may have been at the root of the conduct that got them discharged in the first place. This system can set up veterans for hardship and loss rather than easing them back into a productive civilian life. However, there may be change coming for those suffering from PTSD and other ailments that have caused them to lose their place in the military.
Since 2008, over 80 Veteran Treatment Courts have opened across the country, with locations in Colorado Springs, Centennial, and Denver. These courts strive to help veterans, who have been discharged from service and suffer from some sort of trauma, ease back into civilian life. They offer structure and mentoring to help these veterans become productive members of society once again.
Having the ability to treat these veterans, rather than just to punish them, has helped decrease recidivism rates and even allowed some soldiers to continue their military service. These programs would work similarly to civilian rehabilitation programs, according to a quote by Maj. Evan R. Seamone in the New York Times. "'Ideally it would begin with a service member pleading guilty to an offense.' He offered no hard and fast rules about what crimes should be eligible, but he said sexual predation or murder, for instance, would not be appropriate. 'Substance abuse or drug-related crimes, aggressive or unbecoming behavior, drunken driving or even petty larceny might all qualify.'"
Only time will tell how these courts will work to help veterans and soldiers alike. However, anything that can help our Men and Women of the Armed Forces is worth trying.