Latest News

Rubio, McSally, Kaine, Cornyn, Coons Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Local Veteran Treatment Courts

Nov 5, 2019 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Tim Kaine (D-VA), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced bipartisan legislation to expand access to veteran treatment courts and allow those who served our nation to receive the care they need. 
Veteran treatment courts are an alternative to the traditional criminal justice system for veterans who have committed non-violent misdemeanor crimes while transitioning back to civilian life. Through these courts, veterans struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues enroll in recovery programs designed to set them on a path to success.
The Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act of 2019 establishes a single office within the Department of Justice, in coordination with the Department of Veterans Affairs, to help state, local, and tribal governments to develop and maintain veteran treatment courts. The bill would provide grants, training, and technical assistance for veteran treatment courts and communities interested in starting a program.
“Our veterans gave their all to protect our nation and the freedoms we cherish. It is our duty to ensure that not a single one of the men or women who fought for our nation is left behind,” Rubio said. “I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing much needed legislation to expand access to veteran treatment courts, to give our veterans a second chance, and to make certain that they are receiving the care they need and deserve.” 
“So many veterans come back from war with invisible wounds that result in addiction and other behavioral manifestations,” McSally said. “Veteran courts are a proven way to get our veterans the care they need and get them back on track. Then, they can continue to contribute to society with the military core values they lived by in uniform. Judge Pollard in Tucson and the East Valley Regional Veterans Court have repeatedly had success in these programs and that’s why they ought to be expanded nationwide. Thank you to Senator Tim Kaine and all of the bill’s sponsors for partnering with me on this important and life-changing initiative for our veterans.”
“For veterans who have served our nation and suffered from PTSD, a brain injury, or other trauma, veteran treatment courts help ensure that the criminal justice system is effectively considering the underlying causes of their behavior. Our bill aims to get veterans the care they need and helps reduce recidivism in our communities,” Kaine said. 
“Veteran treatment courts give those who have served and fallen on hard times a second chance,” Cornyn said. “Texas is home to a number of these specialized courts, including the first VETS Court established on a military installation at Fort Hood. I’m proud to join with my colleagues to expand this resource so more veterans can work to get their lives back on track.” 
“As a country, we make a solemn promise to our veterans to give them the care and the support they need after their service. Veterans treatment courts are a critical tool for ensuring that veterans get access to the services they need through the court system, so I’m proud to join my Republican and Democratic colleagues to support this legislation and continue working to ensure these courts are adequately funded,” Coons said. “Delaware has been a leader in this effort, launching the nation’s first statewide veterans treatment court program in 2011, and I’m eager to build on the success we’ve had in Delaware for veterans everywhere.”
Companion legislation introduced by Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) passed the House last week.
Veteran treatment courts provide staff members not traditionally available in the court system. Judges, local VA officials, veteran organizations, prosecutors, public defenders, and other community organizations work directly with veterans to ensure successful treatment.
The first treatment court was formed in New York in 2008. Now, over 450 veteran treatment courts and dockets across the U.S. have helped veterans navigate drug, mental health, and criminal courts.
The legislation has received the support of the American Legion, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, National Military & Veterans Alliance, American Logistics Association, American Military Retirees Association, American Military Society, American and Navy Union of the USA, American Retiree Association, Association of the US Navy, Military Order of Foreign Wars, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Military Order of World Wars, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, The Flag and General Officers Network, The Independence Fund, The Retired Enlisted Association, Society of Military Widows, Vietnam Veterans of America, and Catholic War Veterans.