Veterans Court will benefit vets, county

Published 3:35 pm Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We were pleased to hear the news that Shelby County has been chosen to serve as a pilot program for the establishment of a Veterans Court, led by Circuit Judge Bill Bostick.

The Veterans Court will provide judicial supervision for military veterans facing criminal charges, making sure that those veterans get access to the services and treatment they deserve because of their service to our country.

Many military veterans who make it back from war return to an uncertain place in society. Economic hardship has made it tough for some veterans to find jobs, while many veterans also struggle with mental and physical health issues stemming from their time at war.

The county has seen success with other special courts before, including Drug Court and Mental Health Court. Those courts have significantly reduced recidivism, which is one of Bostick’s major goals for Veterans Court.

In fact, it’s likely that Bostick and Shelby County Probate Judge Jim Fuhrmeister, who oversees the Mental Health Court, will see a lot of each other after the Veterans Court gets started.

Fuhrmeister said he anticipates overlap between clients in Veterans Court and Mental Health Court and cited studies that show major depression and substance abuse has increased among veterans, especially those deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, Veterans Court won’t be a free pass, nor should it be. Those arrested will likely be the ones to pay for their costs related to the legal system, as it is with Drug Court.

We applaud this effort to help those among us who deserve the glory of having fought for our country but instead are finding themselves mired in tough situations here at home.

Serving in the United States military means something, and we’re proud to see Shelby County’s judges working to honor veterans’ sacrifices by giving them the help they deserve when they go into our criminal justice system.

The We Say is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.