problems, it’s likely that many are connected, says Delgado. A
study conducted by the Rand Corporation in 2008 estimated
that approximately one-fifth of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans
return home with symptoms of PTSD or depression, but only
slightly more than half of those people seek treatment. Of that
group, only half again receive even minimally adequate care,
the report states.
“Sometimes mental illness plays a role in the crimes
committed by veterans, often because it’s untreated,” Delgado
says. “And untreated PTSD and depression can lead to poor
judgment, drug abuse and getting arrested for committing
some sort of crime. So it’s really important to be able to give
these veterans access to the treatment the VA offers, so we can
prevent or stop that from happening.”
Psychologists working in the system add they’re surprised
by the number of veterans they meet with who hadn’t
previously accessed any VA services or benefits, including
“As more veterans treatment courts become established and
the word gets out,” says Delgado, “I think more veterans will
begin to see that there is help out there.”
The VA is now evaluating outcomes for veterans seen
by its Veterans Justice Outreach program, including those
seen in these courts. An informal assessment of the Buffalo
program by Judge Robert Russell, an associate judge in
Buffalo’s City Court who helped found the courts, already
shows the promise of these systems (see sidebar). Of the
200 veterans Russell has seen in his court, about 65 have
graduated from their treatment programs, and none to his
knowledge have been re-arrested.
Tori DeAngelis is a writer in Syracuse, N. Y.
For more information on Buffalo’s Veterans Treatment Court visit
www.buffaloveteranscourt.org. For more information on veterans
courts in general, visit Justice for Vets at www.nadcp.org/vets.
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