WASHINGTON – Bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan to support state and local veterans treatment courts passed the U.S. Senate on Thursday. The Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to hire additional Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) specialists in order to ensure that veterans have greater access to effective and tailored treatment. The veterans treatment court model removes veterans from the regular criminal justice process and helps to address symptoms that are unique to veterans, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and substance misuse.
New Hampshire has a total of six veterans’ treatment courts in Grafton, Hillsborough, and Rockingham Counties.
“I was glad to help usher this bipartisan bill through the Senate, which would play an important role in furthering efforts to get veterans the specific care they need to heal,” said Senator Shaheen. “Whether struggling with post-traumatic stress, substance misuse or other mental health concerns, we know that it’s critical for communities to respond properly to these challenges. This bill is a commonsense solution that would help us prioritize treatment, rehabilitation and recovery for our veterans.”
“The veterans treatment court model helps ensure that the men and women who have served in defense of our freedoms have the opportunity to receive appropriate, effective, and tailored treatment to meet their needs and address symptoms that are unique to veterans,” Senator Hassan said. “I’m proud to work with members of both parties to improve the way we treat veterans who may suffer from post-traumatic stress and substance misuse, and this bipartisan legislation is a positive step toward adequately meeting the needs of our brave veterans.”
Senator Shaheen has long advocated to bolster efforts to prioritize treatment for veterans as an alternative to incarceration, particularly for those struggling with mental health and substance use disorder. Shaheen previously introduced the Veterans Justice Outreach Act, which would empower the Department of Veterans Affairs to work within the criminal justice system to train law enforcement, courts, attorneys and legal assistance organizations in order to divert veterans into treatment programs and identify common challenges to reintegrating veterans into society.