CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Six veterans from the Tri-State area graduated from the Hamilton County Municipal Court Veterans' Treatment Program on Thursday.
The program aims to divert veterans from the traditional criminal justice system to a treatment-based court, working to rehabilitate and assist veterans in leading a productive and law abiding life.
Ohio has over 900,000 veterans, many of them suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Melissa Powers began the program three years ago after seeing countless veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars become criminal defendants in her courtroom, mainly for Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence. She wanted to help them cope with trauma resulting from their service.
"When a soldier comes home from war, a part of war comes home with the soldier. In essence, returning home is just another chapter of war," Judge Powers told veterans and attendees while presiding over the graduation ceremony. "The willingness to voluntarily participate in a strict compliance treatment program is remarkable in and of itself. Certainly these veterans by their own choice are not taking the easy way out of the criminal justice system."
Participants receive guidance from a treatment team, consisting of mental health specialists, pre-trial services, peer mentors, Veteran Justice Outreach Officer, probation officer, law enforcement, public defender, prosecutors, vocational rehab specialist. In addition, professional medical and psychological care providers at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center create a specific treatment plan for each veteran.
Learn more about the program here: http://www.judgemelissapowers.com/veterans.html