WASHINGTON - A bipartisan bill cosponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan to support state and local veterans treatment courts was signed into law today by President Trump. The Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act requires that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hire additional Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) specialists to ensure that justice-involved veterans have greater access to effective and tailored treatment.
The veteran treatment court model offers veterans involved with the criminal justice process a treatment- and recovery-focused alternative to incarceration. In a structured environment, suited for veterans, participants receive help to tackle symptoms that are often unique to their military experiences, including post-traumatic stress disorder. The Granite State has six veterans’ treatment courts in Grafton, Hillsborough, and Rockingham Counties.
“The particular challenges and struggles that impact our veteran community require a different approach for recovery and rehabilitation, and that’s precisely why this bipartisan legislation to increase hiring in the Veterans Justice Outreach Program is so important,” said Senator Shaheen. “We owe it to our servicemen and women to provide them with the resources they need to get the care and support they’ve earned. I’m glad to see this legislation signed into law and will keep working across the aisle to ensure our veterans continue to get the help they deserve.”
“Veteran treatment courts help veterans get back on track by using appropriate, effective, and tailored treatment to meet their needs and address symptoms that are unique to veterans, such as post-traumatic stress disorder,” Senator Hassan said. “After all the sacrifices our veterans have made in defense of our freedoms, we have an obligation to provide them with the best services and support, including within the criminal justice system.”
Senator Shaheen has prioritized efforts to improve access to treatment for veterans in the criminal justice system as an alternative to incarceration, particularly those struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. Shaheen, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, worked to include $5 million in the funding legislation for fiscal year 2019 to boost investments in the Veterans Justice Outreach Program. That funding bill was ushered through the Senate Appropriations Committee in June. 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.
Senator Hassan has long fought to ensure that Granite State veterans receive the care they need and have earned. Under then-Governor Hassan’s leadership, New Hampshire established its first veterans drug treatment court model in Hillsborough County in 2014. Additionally, as a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee, Senator Hassan helped introduce the bipartisan CARA 2.0 Act, which would authorize an additional $20 million for veteran treatment courts, and she has worked across the aisle to help ensure that the bipartisan Senate opioids bill package contains robust funding for treatment courts to support our veterans and other Americans seeking recovery.