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Veterans Treatment Courts: Analysis and Recommendations


Frederick, A. (2014). Veterans Treatment Courts: Analysis and Recommendations. Law & Psychology Review, 38211-230.

This note examines the creation of veterans treatment courts, a type of problem-solving court specifically for veterans, as a response to the increasing number of incarcerated veterans in the United States. Specifically, this note explores the history and development of veterans treatment courts, the operation and key components of the program, and the impact of applying its methodology. It also identifies and responds to the common criticisms of the system. Finally, this note concludes by providing recommendations for applying the mentor aspect of the program to other problem-solving courts. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

An inventory of VA involvement in Veterans courts, dockets and tracks

Jim McGuire, PhD; Sean Clark, JD; Jessica Blue-Howells, LCSW; Cedric Coe, MAFO

VA Veterans Justice Programs

February 7, 2013

Catch, Treat, and Release: Veteran Treatment Courts Address the Challenges of Returning Home.


Slattery, M., Dugger, M. T., Lamb, T. A., & Williams, L. (2013). Catch, Treat, and Release: Veteran Treatment Courts Address the Challenges of Returning Home. Substance Use & Misuse, 48(10), 922-932. doi:10.3109/10826084.2013.797468

After a decade of war, there is a great need for treatment and alternatives to incarceration for justice-involved veterans. U.S. military service members are returning from combat with substantial mental health challenges, which increase the potential for justice involvement. Veteran Treatment Courts are starting across the nation to meet this need for therapeutic justice. These problem solving courts provide access to treatment and motivation for engagement. Preliminary evidence from a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration-funded evaluation suggests that significant improvements in posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use are just a few of the positive outcomes that these courts may help veterans achieve. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]


Critical concerns in Iraq/Afghanistan war veteran-forensic interface: Veterans treatment court as diversion in rural communities.

Smee, D. E., McGuire, J., Garrick, T., Sreenivasan, S., Dow, D., & Woehl, D. (2013). Critical concerns in Iraq/Afghanistan war veteran-forensic interface: Veterans treatment court as diversion in rural communities. Journal Of The American Academy Of Psychiatry And The Law, 41(2), 256-262.

The veteran-forensic interface is an emerging area of relevance to forensic clinicians assessing or treating returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans facing criminal sanctions. Veterans’ Treatment Court (VTC) represents a recent diversion mechanism for low-level offenses that is based on a collaborative justice model. Thirty-nine percent of veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and receiving VA services reside in rural areas. Rural veterans facing criminal justice charges may be at a disadvantage due to limited access to forensic psychiatrists with relevant expertise in providing veterans services for diversion. Therefore, widening the pool of forensic clinicians who have such expertise, as well as knowledge of the signature wounds of the wars as related to aggression and reckless behavior is necessary. This article presents an overview of VTCs and discusses the role of forensic clinicians as stakeholders in this process.


Veterans Courts: Early Outcomes and Key Indicators for Success

Holbrook, J. & Anderson, S. (2011). Veterans Courts: Early outcomes and key indicators for success. Social Science Research Network. Retrieved from

The growing trend within the judicial, treatment, and advocacy communities toward specialized courts for military veterans raises important questions about the effectiveness of such courts in rehabilitating veterans. Both principally and practically, veterans courts observers may take opposing positions regarding the appropriateness and effectiveness of placing veterans in a specialized, treatment-based court program simply because of their military service. This chapter explores these challenging issues in two parts. First, we undertake a discussion of first principle concerns related to veterans courts by reviewing research studies examining the link between veterans and criminal misconduct. The return of 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has re-ignited the still unsettled controversy over whether veterans suffering from combat trauma are more likely than their non-veteran counterparts to commit criminal misconduct after returning home. While firm conclusions may be difficult (and unpopular) to draw, the issue warrants attention in any serious discussion about the merits and best practices of veterans court programs. Second, we present early findings from an assessment we conducted of the practices, procedures, and participant populations of certain veterans courts operating as of March 2011. Of the 53 courts invited to participate, 14 provided a response by completing either an online or paper survey. Of these, seven submitted sample policies and procedures, participant contracts, plea agreements, and mentor guidelines for our review. Drawing on these courts’ common practices and procedures, we identify key operational components courts should consider in implementing veterans court programs. We also conclude that veterans court outcomes, at least at present, appear at least as favorable as those of other specialized treatment courts.


The Battle on the Home Front: Special Courts Turn to Vets to Help Other Vets

William H. McMichael

November 2011


Veterans’ Courts and Criminal Responsibility: A Problem Solving History & Approach to the Liminality of Combat Trauma

Holbrook, Justin G. (2010). Veterans’ Courts and Criminal Responsibility: A Problem Solving History & Approach to the Liminality of Combat Trauma. Social Science Research Network. Retrieved from

In September 2010, a federal judge dismissed a criminal case involving a veteran accused of assaulting a federal police officer to allow the case to be heard by the Buffalo Veterans Treatment Court, a division of Buffalo City Court. For those involved in veterans’ advocacy and treatment, the case is significant for a number of reasons. First, it is the first criminal case nationwide to be transferred from federal court to a local veterans treatment court where the goal is to treat - rather than simply punish - those facing the liminal effects of military combat. Second, the case reignites the still unsettled controversy over whether problem-solving courts generally, and veterans courts specifically, unfairly shift the focus of justice away from the retributive interests of victims to the rehabilitative interests of perpetrators. Third, the case serves as a signal reminder to all justice system stakeholders, including parties, judges, attorneys, and treatment professionals, of the potential benefits of sidestepping courtroom adversity in favor of a coordinated effort that seeks to ameliorate victim concerns while advancing treatment opportunities for veterans suffering from combat-related trauma. This chapter explores these issues in light of the history of combat-related trauma and the development of veterans’ treatment courts around the country.


Coming Home: Accommodating the Special Needs of Military Veterans to the Criminal Justice System

Hawkins, M. D. (2010). Coming Home: Accommodating the Special Needs of Military Veterans to the Criminal Justice System. Ohio State Journal Of Criminal Law, 7(2), 563-573.

Large numbers of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are returning home with serious mental and emotional problems. In response to their impact on the criminal justice system, several jurisdictions have established veterans courts. Patterned after the early intervention and intensive supervision protocols of drug courts, these courts are designed to address the particular needs of these veterans. Focusing on nonviolent offenses and relying on a treatment rather than punishment model, early reports suggest the efforts are working to address the profound stress many veterans have experienced and the difficult adjustment to civilian life they face when returning home. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]


Should Problem Solving Courts be Solution-Focused Courts?

King, Michael S., Should Problem Solving Courts be Solution-Focused Courts? (December 13, 2010). Revista Juridica Universidad de Puerto Rico, Forthcoming; Monash University Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010/15.

Drug courts, family violence courts, mental health courts, community courts and variations of these courts have commonly been considered to be problem-solving courts. Implicit in the concept of and literature on these courts is the idea that it is the court that solves participants’ problems, often with the assistance of a multi-disciplinary team. However behavioral science research suggests that positive behavioural change involves the individual’s own internal processes and actions, albeit often assisted by treatment and support services. Rather than seeking to solve participants’ problems, these courts should be taking a solution-focused approach, supporting participants’ own change processes and facilitating their involvement with treatment and support agencies as needed. Such an approach avoids coercion and paternalism, promotes participant involvement in decision making and problem-solving concerning their rehabilitation, uses persuasion and motivational interviewing techniques where appropriate and supports participant self-efficacy. This approach is more likely to promote long-lasting behavioral change than a problem-solving approach. However further research is needed concerning the efficacy of particular judicial processes in these courts.