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Allen County courts join forces to establish new veterans’ court

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Allen County will gavel in its veterans’ court Nov. 12 and join a growing list of Indiana jurisdictions creating the problem-solving court especially to serve military veterans.
 
The court in Fort Wayne is the result of a collaborative effort by Allen Circuit Judge Tom Felts and Allen Superior Judge Francis Gull.

“It makes sense economically, it makes sense for public safety, it makes sense to reduce contact with the justice system,” Felts said of the new veterans’ court. “It makes sense all around.”

Veterans’ courts have been popping up around Indiana for the last two or three years, according to Mary Kay Hudson, problem-solving court administrator at the Indiana Judicial Center. They typically appear in counties where judges have championed their implementation and local governments have appropriated the necessary funding.

In the mental health court and drug court that Felts and Gull oversee respectively, each has encountered a number of veterans and realized the need for a court geared toward these individuals. The judges have seen the unique issues and needs of this population while, at the same time, they knew the Department of Veterans Affairs was providing more services in the northeast part of Indiana.

The pair began work separately to establish a veterans’ court but joined together once they learned of the other’s efforts.

Felts explained the court is “designed to increase the available benefits and services we can provide to the veterans.”

To that end, the Allen County Veterans’ Court has secured a liaison from the Veteran Justice Outreach Office who will work with the court and assist in finding resources and services for the military veterans.

Individuals who have served in the military can suffer from the same substance abuse and mental health issues as non-veterans, Hudson said. However, their struggles can be complicated by combat injuries like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injuries and chronic pain.
 
Veterans’ courts that follow the drug court model have reported positive outcomes including reduced recidivism and lower costs, Hudson said.

Of the veterans coming into the problem-solving courts in Allen County, Felts estimated two-thirds had served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The remainder served primarily in Vietnam and the first Gulf War.



 

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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