The Department of Veterans Affairs does not
operate any treatment court or fund court operations, but the VA is nevertheless
a critical player in the veterans treatment court movement. Within most
veterans treatment courts, a Veterans Justice Outreach specialist (VJO) is
provided by the VA to marshal VA resources in support of veterans treatment.
For veterans meeting VA eligibility criteria, PTS and other military-related
mental health conditions may be treated free of charge to the veteran,
utilizing VA healthcare benefits earned by their service. The VJO serves as the
lynchpin between the treatment court and the VA, thus insuring appropriate and
seamless access to VA benefits and services.
Veterans treatment courts which have
developed without the coordination and oversight of established veteran
organizations such as the CVLTF, often rely exclusively on the VJO to gain
specific insight about veterans and the veterans culture, veteran eligibility
for treatment, veterans service providers, and to create a framework to
collaborate with other stakeholders.
Treatment courts which have developed more
organically, including the San Diego model, work with the VJO to streamline the
treatment process. They also educate the public, meet with and educate state
and local elected officials, possess the freedom to promote expanded veteran
access to the treatment court, and to press for reforms to make the treatment
court more responsive to veterans. Several of these efforts are outside the purview
of the VA, which must follow strict guidelines established by Congress which
preclude the VA from participating in significant areas, including providing
any treatment in jails or prisons. The CVLTF and other grass-roots veterans
treatment court coordinators also serve as a local voice for veterans issues in
ways the VA, a massive federal agency, cannot.