San Luis Obispo County Veterans Treatment Court Started June 14th, 2013
June 14th is Flag Day, the 238th birthday of the US Army and will be the launch date of the San Luis Obispo Veterans Treatment Court (VTC). VTC were first started in Buffalo, New York in 2008. VTCs have since spread across the country; California has over a dozen VTC programs currently operating; San Luis Obispo’s will be the 15th in the state. These courts are designed to address the growing number of veterans entering the criminal justice system as a result of traumatic experiences they endured while in the military, making it difficult for these veterans to cope in civilian life. VTC’s assist veterans who have entered the criminal justice system receive treatment and rehabilitation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) if the criminal activity is attributed to conditions like Post-Traumatic stress disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, Sexual Trauma and other triggers related to military service. The program is also designed to assist local agencies by having the VA provided staff in courts, provide treatment and use trained volunteer mentors in making sure the veterans complete the program. All this will work to rehabilitate the veteran, reduce recidivism and reduce costs.
There are several agencies involved in making the San Luis Obispo VTC possible including: Superior Court, the Sheriff’s Department, Probation, Mental Health, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office and Veterans Services. All of these agencies currently work together, but with a VTC they have the added resources of a VA provided Veterans Justice Coordinator and trained volunteer veteran mentors. The Coordinator is on the team to ensure that veterans meet program criteria, works in the court room to ensure the veteran gets into proper treatment and ensures that the veteran completes his/her treatment plan. The mentors work with the veteran outside the court to assist them in making sure they make all appointments, check in as required with probation and give the veteran a fellow vet to be there if they are struggling.
“As a local prosecutor, friends and colleagues ask me why I support Veteran's Treatment Court….‘Because it is the right thing to do!’ When our men and women come back from battle with battle scars that lead to crisis, we must do everything we can to assist them in returning to a productive and healthy life here at home…. is of utmost importance, as it will likely result in successful rehabilitation and low or zero recidivism. ” said Army National Guardsman and Iraq war veteran Dan Dow.
Court begins at 9am in Department 6 of the San LUis Obispo Superior Court, for more information please contact the San Luis Obispo County Veterans Services Office 805-781-5766 or email us for more information.
Presentation on VTC (power point presentation)