U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly announced Wednesday that he has invited Floyd Superior Court 3 Judge Maria Granger as his guest to President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union speech Jan. 12. Granger established Indiana’s first veterans court in 2011.
“It is my honor to bring Judge Granger to the State of the Union. Her leadership in establishing and expanding Veterans Courts is improving lives for Hoosiers and helping veterans involved with the criminal justice system, especially those dealing with mental health issues or substance abuse, get their lives back on track,” Donnelly said in a statement. “These innovative courts are a model for other communities and states as our country works to get veterans the treatment or help that they need, while connecting them with the benefits they have earned serving our country.”
There are now 15 veterans courts in Indiana, with nine more in the planning stages. Unlike other problem-solving courts, veterans courts rely heavily on volunteers to match participants with mentors form the same branch of service.
“Senator Joe Donnelly is fearless in his efforts to make things right for veterans, and Hoosiers can be grateful. My invitation to the State of the Union says boldly that justice is for all Hoosiers, veterans and civilians, alike,” Granger said in the statement. “I share this privilege with other families who have lost loved ones in military service, and my judicial colleagues who recognize the need for specialized Veterans Courts. Veterans’ military experience is unlike any civilian experience and may result in post-traumatic stress, anxiety, or depression which can lead to substance abuse, lack of stable housing, or worse yet, overdose or suicide. Veterans Courts help restore some of the veterans’ investment through a collaborative effort of justice and mental health professionals that target the troubles of court-involved veterans.”
Donnelly, a Democrat, has worked in the Senate to help veterans and military personnel returning home from foreign conflicts. He co-authored the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act of 2014 and called for increase funding for the veterans courts in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee last year. The Veterans Treatment Court federal grant program received an increase in funding from $5 million to $6 million for the 2016 fiscal year.
Granger, a Washington, Indiana, native and graduate of Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, has been the presiding judge of Floyd Superior Court 3 since 2009.