Dane County Circuit Judges have authorized the creation of a Veterans’ Treatment Court here in Dane County.   The Veterans Administration, the Dane County Sheriff, the District Attorney, and the Public Defender have agreed to support this initiative.  Most important, a group volunteer veterans from the community have agreed to act as mentors to individuals who participate in the court process

What is it?   A Veterans treatment courts promotes sobriety, recovery, and stability through a coordinated effort to provide treatment for addiction and mental health issues and to maintain regular contact with the court.  The Veterans Court utilizes volunteer veteran mentors to encourage, guide, and support the veteran through the Court process.

Who is eligible?   The Veteran who can benefit from the Veterans Treatment Court Program is a person who has a criminal charge pending and for whom there is an underlying treatment need that is significantly contributing to the criminal issues.  Eligibility typically requires:

• Service in the U.S. Armed Forces, including Reserves and Guard

• Eligible for Veterans Service Benefits

• Have a demonstrated treatment need

What happens? The District Attorney and defense lawyer agree to allow the case into Veterans Court and the Vet signs a contract for participation.  There must be a treatment need (such as mental health or AODA).   To determine the treatment needs, the Vet must undergoan assessment by the VA.  The Vet will appear before the Vets Court judge on a regular basis. The Vet must follow through on treatment, including random drug testing.

Volunteer Mentor.  Volunteer Mentors, themselves veterans, are the key part of the Vets Court.  Each Veteran is assigned a Vet Mentor who maintains contact with the Vet to encourage, advise and assist the Vet.   Communication from the Vet to Mentor is, by law, confidential and the Mentor cannot disclose anything except in an emergency involving threat of harm or a criminal act, Sec. 905.16, Wis. Stats.  

What Result?  Upon successful completion of the treatment plan (typically 12-18 months), theoriginal charges against the defendant are dismissed or reduced.

How to Apply. The application is at www.countyof dane.com/court/alternative/veterans.aspx.

Send it to the Dane County Veterans Treatment Court, Branch 12, Judge Dave Flanagan,

608-266-4194, FAX 608-267-4153.