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As part of Impaired Driving Prevention Month, Sobering Up is taking a look back at the year’s Top 12 Newsmakers in the fight against alcohol-involved crime and Impaired Driving. This post is Part 10 of 12.

While 2008 was the launch of the first court docket specifically designed for military combat veterans, 2012 has been a dynamic year for Veterans Treatment Courts. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the U.S. Veterans Administration, and an endless list of both military and civilian organizations now actively support and promote Veterans Treatment Courts, which are designed to tackle a previously under-served population: U.S. combat veterans who return to a life of emotional challenges, substance abuse, homelessness, unemployment, and eventually, crime.

A disproportionate number of men and women who serve in our armed forced end up embroiled in our criminal justice system, and the vast majority had no brushes with the law prior to their service. One in four U.S. veterans between 18 and 25 meet the criteria for substance abuse disorders. And 81% of justice-involved veterans had a substance abuse problem prior to incarceration.

Veterans Courts are designed to rehabilitate nonviolent veterans who wind up in the criminal justice system through an intensely supervised collaborative program between agencies such as court officials, probation and mental health departments, the Veterans Administration and Veterans Benefit Administration. Fellow veterans who serve as mentors are a key component of the offender’s treatment team. Today there are over 120 veterans courts open in 35 states, with many more in the planning stages.  One of the newest courts, the Milwaukee County (WI) Veterans Treatment Initiative, officially launched on Dec. 5, 2012.

These innovative programs are already proving effective in getting veterans back on their feet and out of the revolving door of substance abuse and crime. They aren’t without their critics, and questions on the preferential treatment of military veterans were brought to light in a November article from Bloomberg News.

But Veterans Treatment Courts are a top newsmaker for 2012  because the news was dominated, almost daily, by stories of survival, recovery, and redemption for veterans court participants. Last month, Sobering Up reported on just one of those stories, a Vietnam-era veteran in Austin, Texas. And it underscores precisely how Veterans Treatment Courts are making a profound difference.

Justice for Vets, the clearinghouse for research, data, and other information related to Veterans Treatment Courts, has announced their first-ever conference specific for Veterans Courts in 2013. We expect these programs to be another top newsmaker next year and beyond.

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up: A blog about drunk driving, alcohol addiction, and criminal justice, is anything but a corporate blog. Sobering Up is an opportunity for anyone interested or involved in the issues of drunk driving, alcohol-fueled crime, alcohol dependence and addiction, and the justice system to participate in the conversation.


  1. It’s about time! I say that with enthusiasm in every way. I am a veteran and I have been in those very shoes. It is very easy to say our veterans/military wear a shield and protect our country. They stand on a wall… and they also fall in a gutter. It’s time to address the problem and provide substantial help. It is tough to adapt into society today and I hope the Veteran Treatment Courts understands and helps.

  2. Most Americans do not understand that our soldiers fight on foreign land so that the conflict does not come to our country. Most Americans do not know the mental strain it places on our soldier to be away from home in a foreign land, being shot at, being wound and watching fellow soldiers around you die. We owe everything to our soldiers.
    Veteran’s Court is a great idea!!!!

  3. I’m a Veteran as well that got caught up in the system, and was given the shaft.
    Our veterans are treated like they have the plague or something when they return from combat or any deployment.
    Come on Federal, State, and Local governments, get off your high and mighty seats, and try to actually earn your paychecks, and start giving our Veterans the help, and respect they deserve !!!
    Better yet, try donating about 10% of your salary to the VA system to help our Veterans. Remember, the majority of them had no choice but to serve.
    Stop treating us like we don’t exist, because we do !!

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