Two bills to support veteran treatment courts in Aurora area pass major hurdle

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AURORA | Veterans entangled in the judicial system might be getting more support after two bills passed out of the House last week and now heads to the Senate.

Two bills, sponsored by Aurora GOP Congressman Mike Coffman, aim at bolstering services provided to military veterans through Veteran Treatment Courts. Veteran treatment courts allow former military service members to avoid jail if their crimes stemmed from trauma experienced from their time in the uniform.

One bill, the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act, would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to hire at least 50 new veterans justice outreach specialist. Those positions act as a liaisons between veterans, courts and law enforcement. The other bill directs the VA to train more women t be a part of the veteran peer-to-peer counseling program.

 “The Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act’ and the ‘Peer-2-Peer Counseling Act’ address key gaps in how we help veterans,” Coffman said in a statement. “Both bills build upon already proven models to help those who have served our country.”

The veteran treatment courts, born out of the drug treatment court model, have shown success in helping veterans get the services they need to address underlying issues of trauma from their time in uniform. The 18th Judicial District court has seen 73 percent success rate for veterans who receive services through its treatment and don’t go on to commit a subsequent crime. (To read more about the veteran treatment courts, click here).

Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler lauded the move and the program, saying expansion serves the veterans and the public well by helping them to avoid incarceration.