Just two months after introducing H.R. 4345, the Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act, U.S. Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Jeff Denham (R-CA) announced it has received the endorsement of the National Military & Veterans Alliance (NMVA).
NMVA – a non-partisan group of military and veterans service organizations including American Logistics Association; American Military Retirees Association; American Military Society; Army and Navy Union of the USA; American Retiree Association; AMVETS; Association of the US Navy; Military Order of Foreign Wars; Military Order of the Purple Heart; Military Order of World Wars; Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors; Flag and General Officers Network; Independence Fund; Retired Enlisted Association; Society of Military Widows; and Vietnam Veterans of America – joins American Legion, AMVETS, and Disabled American Veterans in supporting this bipartisan bill to enhance state and local veterans treatment court programs that support the unique needs of veterans who find themselves in the criminal justice system.
In Congress, the legislation has also gained the support of 47 additional cosponsors from both parties, showing growing momentum behind this effort.
"Heartening to see such an outpouring of support from fellow members of Congress and leading Veterans Service Organizations to bolster veterans treatment court programs, better serving their unique needs," said Rep. Crist. "Through these programs, we can help veterans thrive when facing challenges transitioning to civilian life."
"Veteran treatment courts keep many veterans in crisis out of the criminal justice system and get them the help they otherwise might never receive," said Rep. Denham. "I look forward to continuing to work to get this bipartisan bill passed to give our veterans the support they need and deserve.'
"Our member organizations all recognize the important contributions that your legislation will make to the veteran community," wrote NMVA Co-Directors Ted S. Painter and Aleks Morosky. "Your legislation will provide a veteran charged with a non-violent crime attributed to their military service the opportunity to receive court-supervised, comprehensive treatment. This will allow veterans to avoid jail time, receive the treatment they need, and have their records expunged upon completing the requirements of a program of treatment facilitated by the VA and supervised by a VTC."
To view NMVA's full letter of support, click here.
Background on H.R. 4345:
After serving our country, too many veterans are experiencing mental health issues, substance abuse, and homelessness, which can often land them in the criminal justice system. Veterans treatment courts provide the counseling, care, and support veterans need to help address these challenges and more successfully transition to civilian life.
The Veterans Treatment Court Coordination Act establishes a program within the Department of Justice, in coordination with the VA, to provide grants, training, and technical assistance to help state, local, and tribal governments develop and maintain veterans treatment courts. Currently, these programs are supported by dedicated individuals in law enforcement, the judicial system, the legal community, VA officials, Veterans Service Organizations, and other community organizations.
The bill would provide federal resources for the establishment of new treatment courts. The first veterans treatment court was established in Buffalo, New York in 2008. Since that time, additional courts have been successfully adopted in state and local courts throughout Florida and the nation. In 2013, Florida's 6th Judicial Circuit Court created a veterans unit to address the unique needs of those in Pinellas and Pasco counties, home to over 130,000 veterans.