According to a recent opinion piece published by the New York Times, nearly 20 percent of the 1.6 million service members returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from their intense experiences in service to our country. The opinion piece was written by Ronald D. Castille in honor of Veterans Day. Castille is a veteran of the Vietnam War and is now the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
In his op-ed piece, Castille discusses how veterans courts are cropping up around the country. He says the courts can be effective at helping veterans who commit nonviolent crimes (such as DUI or drug crimes) while struggling with PTSD and/or substance abuse get the help and treatment they need to succeed in life after their military service.
The courts enter these veterans into treatment programs rather than put them on trial. The veterans work on their recovery under the guidance of a mentor and with supervision and regular court hearings. Castille writes that the original program in Pennsylvania has not seen a single case of recidivism and 90 percent of veterans complete the program. Similar courts have been started in Wisconsin, Oklahoma and California.
Castille writes that we are indebted to veterans for their service and owe it to them to do what we can to help them succeed in life after they return from war.
A Special Court for Veterans (The New York Times)