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New Veterans Drug Court Focuses on Rehabilitating Our Soldiers Through Mental Health Treatment
Date:5/28/2008

ALEXANDRIA, Va., May 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) is pleased to announce the establishment of the Buffalo Veterans' Treatment Court in Buffalo, N.Y., which addresses the increasing number of veterans entering the criminal justice system -- more than 300 veterans in 2007 alone. The goal is to reduce the percentage of veterans who suffer from co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders by considering the experience of war before sentencing, and by helping former soldiers find treatment. Over the past two years, several courts, including the Rochester Drug Treatment Court in Rochester, N.Y., began serving veterans through their existing drug court programs. Buffalo established the nation's first court dedicated to the treatment of veterans.

"The Buffalo Veterans' Treatment Court presents a unique opportunity to help veterans in trouble with the law," said NADCP Board Member Emeritus and Buffalo City Court Judge Robert T. Russell, Jr. "Many Veterans are known to have a warrior's mentality and for many they do not address their treatment needs for physical and psychological health care. Many who are referred to the Veterans' Treatment Court are homeless, helpless, in despair, suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, and many others with serious mental illnesses. Their lives have been spiraling out of control."

"Judge Russell and his team were forward-thinking when they created this much needed intervention for America's veterans. Our troops, who put their lives on the line day in and day out, deserve the best our justice system can provide when they face trouble back home in their community," said NADCP CEO West Huddleston. "This is a step in the right direction for veterans with post-traumatic stress, emotional and mental health issues. These individuals require help, not punishment."

According to a study published in the July 2007 issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health by health researchers Mark Kaplan and Bentson McFarland, male veterans are twice as likely to commit suicide as their civilian counterparts, regardless of when they served in the military.

On a national front, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has identified substance use disorders as one of the three most common diagnoses. The January 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that approximately one out of six veterans from Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom have a substance use disorder.

"The reality is we knew we had to do something now because soon we're going to have 400,000 troops coming home. Veterans Court is a way to prevent the veterans' future contacts with the justice system, incidents of harm to self, and others (suicide or violence)," said Buffalo City Court Project Director Hank Pirowski.

The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) and the National Drug Court Institute (NDCI) are responsible for advocacy, training, research, and scholarship on behalf of drug courts nationwide. With more than 2,100 drug courts nationwide, and 500 more in planning stages, drug courts have experienced phenomenal success and tremendous growth by reducing substance abuse, crime, and recidivism. Since 1994, NADCP has represented over 22,000 judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, treatment providers and rehabilitation experts, law enforcement and corrections personnel, educators, researchers, and community leaders. For more information, visit http://www.nadcp.org.


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SOURCE National Association of Drug Court Professionals
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