The Vietnam Veterans of America co-sponsored a forum in Pasadena CA yesterday with the Criminal Courts Bar Association on the plight of war vets returning home with PTSD. Too often, what is a medical condition gets treated as a criminal matter. It doesn’t need to be this way.
My friend Bill Paparian, former Mayor of Pasadena, former Marine, and long-time left leftie activist helped organize it.
“It’s an important issue. The phenomenon is very compelling,” Paparian said. “Increasing numbers of the returning soldiers are now surfacing in the criminal justice system, and about 15,000 of them are in LA County.”
There are already highly successful alternatives to incarceration for vets with PTSD. May there be many more. Emphasis added.
Late last year, LA County started a veterans court in Department 42 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles. Under this pilot program, veterans suffering from mental health problems stemming from US military service can receive treatment as an alternative to incarceration for nonviolent felonies. Deputy DA Lacey serves on the steering committee for the program, which Judge Lonergan, a US Army Reserve colonel, helped establish when he was a deputy DA. Judge Tynan supervises the project.
The first veterans court started in Buffalo three years ago and has been hugely successful, with 150 veterans coming before the bench for a variety of offenses. After receiving alternative help, all of those veterans have remained out of the criminal justice system, leaving the court with a remarkable recidivism rate of zero.