About Us

California Veterans Legal Task Force was formally founded in San Diego County in 2011 following extensive local efforts by veterans  to research military-related trauma, build support for mental health treatment for post-911 veterans coming before the courts, and make communities more secure.

  The California Veterans Legal Task Force is a non-profit corporation established under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)3 with a mission to assist California counties in establishing and sustaining veterans treatment courts (VTCs). VTCs operate to encourage and provide treatment for veterans with diagnosed psychological conditions stemming from their military service. VTCs operate in California under Penal Code Section 1170.9, which provides state courts the power to defer jail sentences for qualifying veterans convicted of a crime.

CVLTF works to expand veterans treatment courts throughout the State of California by providing seasoned consultants to train county teams in a range of available veterans court models, and by helping these teams craft veterans treatment initiatives which will be useful within their local communities. The CVLTF trains judges, attorneys and other stakeholders and connect them with assisting agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, the federal agency which has established formal veteran mental health diagnostic guidelines and provides psychological treatment through its Veterans Justice Outreach program (VJO).

CVLTF also seeks to educate local communities and local and state officials in the benefits of veterans treatment courts. This educational outreach initiative recently resulted in the passage of AB2371, an amendment to PC1170.9 which went into effect in January, 2013. A section of AB2371 empowers California judges to grant veterans who have successfully completed treatment, and are no longer deemed a threat to society, the legal right avoid disclosing their record of arrest and conviction when completeing employment applications, thus enabling them to reintegrate into their communities.

Utilizing skills developed since 2007, the leadership of the California Veterans Legal Task Force shares its expertise with a broad cross-section of veterans groups and legal organizations. CVLTF members have made presentations to organizations, including the National Conference of Veterans Service Officers; the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans annual conference; California State Bar Annual Meeting; Practicing Law Institute’s Veterans Series Webinars; California Jail Inmate Services Directors conference; California Public Defenders Association statewide training conferences,  and  collaborated with the California Department of Veterans Affairs and Judicial Council to help encourage development of veterans treatment courts across the state.

The CVLTF team has also created more than 80 community education presentations for groups of attorneys, judges, businesspersons, veterans groups and interested parties.  Team members work with statewide and national planning groups in pretrial diversion, domestic violence screening, responses to veteran homelessness, mentoring and treatment development projects.

CVLTF has provided legal aid to hundreds of homeless veterans each year in cooperation with Stand Down, an annual homeless veteran aid program in San Diego.  CVLTF has provided pro bono legal counsel to the San Diego Veterans Coalition, which links over 200 businesses to provide aid to veteran causes.  In addition, CVLTF stays current with cutting edge rehabilitation methods, compiles treatment program research data, attends national veteran court training programs and meetings, and provides legal informational classes to California judges on alternate sentencing guidelines.

Together with California law schools and advocating attorneys, CVLTF organizes and supports pro bono legal clinics to increase court access for indigent veterans. CVLTF partners with local and state veterans organizations, government agencies and private entities to foster improved community-based legal services for veterans and their families, with the aim to encourage wholeness, reintegration and productivity, and to reduce homelessness and crime.

From its home base In San Diego County, CVLTF and its predecessor, the Returning Veterans Legal Task Force, was instrumental in establishing San Diego’s veterans court program, known as the Veterans Treatment Review Calendar (VTRC). CVLTF serves as coordinator of the VTRC, managing the collaboration of the government and non-governmental agencies that form the VTRC Team, directing data keeping and evaulation components, and recruiting, training, and supervising volunteer mentors who provide peer support, guiding participants thruogh the program. Through evidenced-based treatment alternatives to jail and prison, CVLTF equips the VTRC Team to screen and qualify veterans within the court system for the Veterans Treatment Review Calendar.

This collaborative court approach to the adjudication of veterans with military-related mental health problems promotes accountability through a combined program of judicial supervision, justice partner collaborative efforts and appropriate treatment and support. CVLTF coordination brings together the San Diego Superior Court, the San Diego District Attorney’s Office, the San Diego City Attorney, the County Public Defenders, the County Probation Department, the Veterans Administration, local treatment providers and a team of veteran mentors. This model enables veteran recovery and promotes public safety. 

In 2012, VTRC, under the coordination of the CVLTF, was awarded the National Association of Counties Organization (NACO) 2012 Achievement Award for innovation in private-public partnerships.