Some of the men and women who serve our military struggle with the transition to civilian life and suffer with mental health problems and substance abuse. The Kentucky Court of Justice launched its Veterans Treatment Court program in 2012 to work with these veterans.
Jefferson County opened the first VTC in the state and programs have since been, Christian, Fayette, Hardin and Kenton counties.
VTCs combine the principles used in Drug Court and Mental Health Court to help veterans achieve stable mental health and recover from addiction. The program provides court-supervised treatment for veterans as an alternative to incarceration and supports them with services to address the issues that contributed to their criminal behavior. These services include treatment for substance abuse and/or mental health, connection to benefits, and help with housing, employment and education.
VTC operates under the Department of Specialty Courts at the Administrative Office of the Courts. The VTC program is based on the Drug Court model which provides court supervision, treatment and other services to reduce recidivism and return participants to productive lives. VTCs are implemented and guided by teams comprised of judges, Drug Court staff, veterans’ agencies, mental health and substance abuse treatment providers, law enforcement, the legal community and community members. Team members identify a veteran’s needs and connect him or her with services.
The VTC program lasts approximately 18 months to two years, depending on the level of services needed and the progress made by the veteran. Volunteer mentors meet with the veterans to encourage their progress in the program. When participants successfully complete the program, charges may be dismissed through diversion or conditional discharge may be granted through probation. Judges who serve VTCs volunteer their time to the program.
10 Key Components
VTC programs are implemented using the 10 Key Components of Veterans Treatment Court.
Each VTC is based on the seven evidence-based designs and strategies endorsed by the National Institute of Justice’s Multisite Adult Drug Court Evaluation.
Kentucky is implementing its VTC program with grants from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance. Funding is used to provide treatment and other support services to veterans and employ case managers to work closely with Drug Court, the Veterans Administration Medical Center and other community partners to assist veterans entering the criminal justice system.
VTC teams receive training on the state level and seek training through the Veterans Treatment Court Planning Initiative of the National Drug Court Institute.