Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is asking Congress to fund Veterans Treatment Courts as a vital tool to identify, treat and help reintegrate veterans returning home from military service into their local communities.
“It’s really a specialized type of diversionary program that allows qualified individuals who are veterans of military service and who have gotten in trouble with the law for a low-level or non-violent offense, to, instead of being prosecuted through to conviction, be diverted from prosecution,” said Schmidt. “Instead, they are placed on a series of supervised requirements. For example, for drug treatment, mental health counseling, pairing with a mentor and the other sorts of extraordinary support that increase the likelihood of helping a person get back on track.”
The program has been tried in Johnson County and it has been well-received.
“Part of the challenge, of course, is that having this sort of intensive intervention can be expensive,” said Schmidt. “That’s the reason we’ve asked Congress to really step up federal support. At the end of the day, of course, the reason people qualify for Veterans Treatment Courts is, at its base, because of their military service on behalf of the United States. We think it is entirely appropriate that Congress help us more fully share in the cost of helping us provide these services to people who have served.”
There are two things the proposed legislation would do to help Kansas.
“It sets up a grants program where the federal government can share in the cost of providing these services through Veterans Treatment Courts, so that state taxpayers aren’t bearing the entire load alone,” said Schmidt. “Second, it provides a system of technical assistance. There are a lot of good lessons learned from the many different Veteran’s Courts around the country. We have only one operating in Kansas. There’s no reason for us to reinvent the wheel.”
There are currently more than 450 Veterans Treatment Courts in 40 states and territories.