The men and women who serve our country in the military are an invaluable population. They deserve the utmost respect and, in many legal cases, the benefit of the doubt.
That idea is the basis of a trial program taking place in Colorado Springs, where one judge is running a court specifically for those who serve or who have served in the United States military service.
The system handles a variety of cases, including assault, domestic violence and drug cases. Highly violent, severe cases, such as sex offenses and other violent incidents involving firearms are not eligible for Colorado’s Veteran Trauma Court.
A recent report from 9News.com of Denver introduces us to one example of a soldier who can benefit from the Veteran Trauma Court. He served in the military for ten years before retiring. And in retirement, the soldier wound up as a one-time offender in his community.
According to reports, he assaulted a police officer as a result of suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. PTSD affects many soldiers and can lead to them participating in behaviors that are unlike them — behaviors the soldiers often don’t remember engaging in.
Because those ill soldiers sometimes commit crimes that due to PTSD were essentially not in their control, the Veteran Trauma Court aims to give them a deserved second chance. The court’s judge is a former military general and sees the court as his opportunity to direct his empathy toward the soldiers in order to protect them from being treated like an average offender.
They are men and women who, because they were courageous enough to serve their country, return home mentally and emotionally injured. They need a special kind of treatment in order to be rehabilitated following what they’ve experienced in the line of duty, and that rehabilitation is the goal of the Veteran Trauma Court.
So far, the Colorado Springs veteran court program is a trial run, funded by a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration. In its first year, the court has reportedly handled more than 40 cases with active duty or veteran defendants. The hope is that the Veteran Trauma Court will continue by becoming a staple part of the county court system so it can help more vets.
9News.com: “Special veteran’s court gives veterans second chances,” 2 Dec. 2010