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The First Judicial District’s Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) was designed to provide an alternative to incarceration for U.S. military veterans with trauma spectrum disorders. The goal is to identify and treat underlying substance abuse and/or mental health issues that have contributed to the veteran’s involvement in the justice system. The primary feature of VTC is the treatment component which addresses PTSD, other mental health issues, substance abuse and traumatic brain injury related to their military services. The goal is to balance the needs of the veteran with public safety.
The VTC is a collaboration of prosecutors, the judiciary, defense attorneys, the Department of Veterans Affairs, probation, community-based treatment providers, law enforcement, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, and a coordinator. An individualized treatment plan is designed for each veteran offender to hold them accountable for their behavior.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is a major component of the VTC and provides a Veterans Services Officer (VSO) who helps connect veterans with critical services. The Veterans Justice Outreach Program (VJO) provides assessment, case management, and treatment to help ensure success for veterans who are accepted into the program.
Veterans may be referred to the VTC through a blend of pre-plea, post plea, and deferred judgment and sentence options. The criteria for acceptance into the VTC court include that veterans be high risk/high need and be probation eligible. They may be eligible if they were in the National Guard or Reserves and regardless of whether or not they were in combat. Each case is carefully screened by the VTC committee.
Once accepted into the program, veterans must agree to actively engage in treatment, counseling, and to release information about their progress. The program takes place in four phases over 18 months, with intensive supervision by probation, VA service providers and the courts. Veterans are generally required to appear in court twice a month for the duration of the program.
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