Special Court For Veterans-Interesting Innovation

The city of Buffalo, New York has established a special court which only focuses on criminal charges against veterans or members of their families. Judge Robert russell, who created the city’s drug treatment court in 1995 and a mental health treatment court in 2005, holds court weekly with veterans assured criminal charges will be dropped on the basis of their willingness to under counseling and psychological treatment. C. West Huddington, CEO of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, predicts other communities will eventually pick up on this idea and develop their own version of special courts for veterans. He cites a recent Rand Study report which estimates 19% of veterans who returned home from Iraq or Afghanistan report symptoms PTSD.

The Department of Health and Human Services began offering grants to communithy programs that divert people with truma related disorders, especially veterans, from the criminal court system. A high percent of veterans attending the Buffalo court are dealing with drug or other substance abuse issues which have resulted in criminal action.