From Cronkite News By Allie Bice: The way Gregg Maxon sees it, veterans have a hard enough time as it is when their service is done – they don’t need jail time added to the list.
Maxon is one of many advocates for veteran treatment courts, a diversion program that takes vets who have been charged with crimes and tries to keep them out of jail while getting them treatment for their underlying problems.
The courts – there are 436 around the country and 13 in Arizona – were praised this week by Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, who cited them as one possible solution to the problem of opioid and prescription drug abuse.
“We owe it to the nation’s veterans to help them end their dependence on opioids and break the downward spiral that all too often ends in homelessness, prison, or suicide,” McDonald said during an event Tuesday with officials from the Justice Department and the White House. “But we can’t do it on our own.”
The first Veterans Treatment Court opened in Buffalo, New York, in 2008 and Arizona’s first opened a year later with the Veterans Treatment Court in the Tucson Municipal Court system.
Unlike other diversion courts, veterans are offered “unique benefits” through the veterans court program. Maxon, judge pro tem for the East Valley Regional and Mesa Courts, said the programs deal with the “underlying conditions” that caused the problem that brought the vet to court.
Read more: Treatment Courts Help Keep Vets Out of Jail