There has been a gradual national shift toward rehabilitation within the justice system. This has been especially important for veterans who make up only 8% of the total population, but account for 10% of those with criminal records. Recognizing that the traditional justice system is not equipped to handle cases of individuals whose underlying cause of offense is combat trauma, there has been a call to expand the Veterans Treatment Court ("VTC") program as an alternative for offenders who are veterans of the armed forces. This issue has been compounded by over a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, involving more than two million service members. Nearly one in five new veterans is diagnosed with a mental health condition, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ("PTSD") or major depression, while many others suffer from severe combat-related stress. The rates of substance abuse among new veterans continues to rise, especially for younger veterans and those who serve in the National Guard and Reserve components. Research shows that veterans of the current wars who are dealing with PTSD and anger issues are more than twice as likely than veterans of earlier eras to be arrested for a crime with a direct link between learned military skills and the propensity to offend. For example, hyper-vigilance and a quick response necessary for combat can translate into aggressiveness and impulsivity.
Veterans Treatment Court: A Hand up Rather than Lock up,
Rich. J. L. & Pub. Int.
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