When veteran Robert Wiese got arrested for a DUI after his “welcome home” celebration, he was embarrassed and ashamed. “Instead of using good judgment and using the ride I’d already established, I chose to drive, which was a poor decision.”
Robert’s drunk driving offense was handled by the Yellowstone County Veterans Treatment Court in Montana. Based on the Drug Court model, Veterans Treatment Courts help veterans with alcohol- or drug-related crimes get their lives back on track.
The need for these courts is great. In 2006, 1.8 million veterans met the criteria for having a substance abuse disorder, and according to Justice for Vets, one in six veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom suffers from a substance abuse issue. Unfortunately, veterans with drug and alcohol issues are more likely to become involved with the criminal justice system.
“Being involved with the Vet Court system has changed my life,” said Robert. “It reiterated the idea that I can reach out for help, that there’s people out there, that I’m not alone in this situation. The experience with the Vet Court, it’s been something I never would have fathomed before. It has allowed me the opportunity to be with other vets, to talk with other vets, to use our experiences for the better.”
As part of his court supervision, Robert was required to wear a SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring bracelet for 100 days, and he’s grateful for it. “It keeps you accountable,” he said.
Hear more stories at historic conference
This December, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals will host the Veterans Treatment Court Conference, the nation’s first conference dedicated to specialty courts for veterans. Watch the video below to see some of the stories we’ll be sharing at the conference about veterans who achieved sobriety and are moving forward thanks to Veterans Courts.