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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 19, 2018 01:01 PM
From: Representative Ryan A. Bizzarro
To: All House members
Subject: Veterans Treatment Courts
Across Pennsylvania, veterans remain important and inspiring members of our communities, and with over 800,000 veterans calling the Commonwealth home, we host one of the largest populations of veterans in the country. Often, these brave men and women come back to their families only to find that they must continue to fight against new enemies: PTSD, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders. These illnesses continue to plague our heroes long after they have left service, and can sometimes end with entry into the criminal justice system.

Veterans courts are a simple way that we can assist veterans who have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony other than a crime of violence. Based on the successful drug court model, participants come before judges on a regular basis, and receive support and guidance from veteran mentors who understand how difficult the civilian re-entry process can be. Veterans are supervised by special probation officers and receive treatment and support from the Veterans Administration throughout their participation. Veterans courts handle numerous veterans’ cases and are supported by a strong interdisciplinary team, leading to a less stressful, and more accommodating experience for veterans and their families.

More than half of all veterans currently in the criminal justice system have mental health or substance abuse disorders and, left untreated, these could lead directly to continued involvement in the criminal justice system. Our veterans have made it their duty to protect and serve us to the fullest extent; now it is our turn to protect and serve them. We must provide the specialized support and treatment they need and deserve. Please join me in this fight to give back to those who have continuously given so much for us.

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Introduced as HB541