Veterans Court Coming to Southeast Valley?

Good news for veterans in the Southeast Valley—Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert court representatives recently met to discuss creating a Veterans Court. The push for a specialized court comes from the recognition that veterans have unique needs compared to others who go through the court system. Veterans often need treatment as opposed to punishment. Many veteran cases land in Municipal court because of criminal incidences stemming from post-traumatic stress disorder. The Municipal court is not equipped to deal with the therapeutic needs of those who have served.

Paul Thomas, court administrator with Mesa Municipal Court, wants it to be clear that the proposed program would not just focus on mental health. “We’re not dispensing with the legal process whatsoever, but just making mental health and other services more a part of it,” Thomas said.

Proponents of the program believe that helping veterans is morally right. Taking into consideration everything veterans have done for our country, it is our duty to aid them in becoming productive members of society again.

The Phoenix Veterans Court has been successful and might serve as a model for the proposed Southeast Valley court. Of the estimated 600 cases handled through that court, nearly 40% went through substance abuse programs, 20% addressed post-traumatic stress disorders, and 17% dealt with another mental health diagnosis.