|Posted:||July 2, 2019 11:52 AM|
|From:||Representative Jake Wheatley, Jr.|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Clean Slate for Veterans|
|As many of you may know, I make it a point to rarely discuss my military career. I served our country as a Marine during the Gulf War, participating in Operation Desert Storm. Now I serve the constituents of the 19th Legislative District and I seldom feel the need to include my own story when my work should be focused on them. That said, I believe this is one of the few times my service and personal experiences gives me a unique perspective on why it is so important to continue to find ways to assist and protect our veterans.
My legislation expands upon the Clean Slate Law by providing limited access to criminal records when a medical professional certifies the veteran has an undiagnosed, service-connected mental health disorder or traumatic brain injury. Including these veterans, who committed a crime and fully served their penalty all before they were diagnosed, deserve the opportunity to create a better life here at home without a criminal record following them at every turn – especially when they did not receive the medical care they deserved between their service and now.
Even though my service ended over 20 years ago, I still feel the effects of that conflict from a mental health perspective. This reality is not unique to me and I bring up my experience because I can empathize with what our veterans are dealing with every day. Suffering from an undiagnosed, service-connected mental health disorder or traumatic brain injury can often result in difficulties adjusting to civilian life all too often including struggles with the law. We can’t let those struggles continue to stifle the futures of so many veterans.
Building upon the monumental Clean Slate Law, I want to make sure that veterans who have sacrificed so much for the freedom we enjoy have an opportunity to take control of their futures. This legislation is necessary because as many know, mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) greatly affect how individuals operate in daily life. Moreover, PTSD, for example, was not officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association until 1980. This means that an unrecognized, yet very real mental health disorder may have contributed to an individual’s interaction with the law and resulted in this individual having a criminal record. This legislation does not permit clean slate for violent offenses, it simply expands upon who is eligible.
Please join me in co-sponsoring this very important legislation.
Introduced as HB1828