Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment offered by Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) to increase federal funding for veterans’ treatment courts. Brownley offered her amendment to the FY 2018 appropriations bill (H.R. 3354) to increase funding for these courts from $7 million to $10 million.
Veterans’ treatment courts are locally driven programs that integrate community and VA resources and services to help veterans caught in the justice system who are struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues.
“Many of our veterans come home carrying the invisible wounds of war, and these mental health issues can severely impact their lives and sometimes lead them down the wrong path,” said Congresswoman Brownley. “Instead of focusing on punishment, we must do our best to help them get back on track to lead productive, fulfilling lives. I am pleased the House has approved this amendment to give more funding to veterans’ treatment courts to help veterans get a second chance.”
Local veterans’ treatment courts have been established nationwide to increase the likelihood of success in rehabilitating and reducing recidivism among justice-involved veterans by linking them with services, benefits, and program providers such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Service Organizations, and volunteer veteran mentors.
There are currently more than 300 of these courts across the country serving over 13,000 veterans, including more than 100 veterans in Ventura County.
One in five veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq suffers from PTSD, and one in six veterans who served in either Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom suffers from substance abuse. Among those who meet the criteria for PTSD or depression, only a third seek treatment. About 60 to 80 percent of justice-involved veterans had a substance use disorder prior to their incarceration and 25 to 40 percent were suffering from a mental health disorder.
Since she was first elected, Congresswoman Brownley has advocated to increase federal funding for veterans’ treatment courts.