Higgins Applauds Passage of Legislation Establishing Grants, Training, and Technical Assistance for Veteran Treatment Courts
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) took to the House floor to recognize the unanimous House passage of H.R. 886, the Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act, a bill that he cosponsored which creates a Veterans Treatment Court Program within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that provides grants, training, and technical assistance to state and local governments in order to establish and operate the courts in their communities.
The first Veteran Treatment Court in the nation was established in Buffalo in 2008 by City Court Judge Robert Russell with the goal of addressing the unique underlying issues some veterans may face that contribute to legal infractions. The court takes eligible veterans who have committed non-violent criminal offenses and places them on a special court docket with support from veteran health care professionals, peer mentors, and mental health professionals.
According to a VA review conducted in 2017, there are now 461 such courts across the country.
In his remarks, Congressman Higgins said: “These specialized courts provide veterans, many battling substance abuse or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with a tactical path to avoid jail and take command of their future. At their side are fellow veterans, also known as "battle buddies" who serve as volunteer mentors, as well as judges and professional staff who can connect these warriors with Veterans Administration benefits. Support for the Veterans Treatment Courts allows the nation to give veterans what they have given us - freedom and peace.”
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The legislation now awaits consideration in the Senate.