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Veterans Coalition Endorses Crist ‘Treatment Court’ Proposal

Veteans | Health Care | Mental Health

The proposed bill is designed to keep veterans in crisis out of the criminal justice system. It is not the first veterans association to support the bill.

WASHINGTON, DC – A bipartisan coalition of veterans groups has endorsed a bill proposed by U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, that is aimed at helping veterans in crisis stay out of the criminal justice system by getting treatment instead of jail time.

“Your legislation will provide a veteran charged with a non-violent crime attributed to their military service the opportunity to receive court-supervised, comprehensive treatment,” the endorsement letter from the National Military & Veterans Alliance reads. “This will allow veterans to avoid jail time, receive the treatment they need, and have their records expunged uponcompleting the requirements of a program of treatment facilitated by the [Veterans Administration] and supervised by a [Veterans Treatment Court].”

The NMVA is a non-partisan group of military and veterans service organizations including American Logistics Association; American Military Retirees Association; American Military Society; Army and Navy Union of the USA; American Retiree Association; AMVETS; Association of the US Navy; Military Order of Foreign Wars; Military Order of the Purple Heart; Military Order of World Wars; Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors; Flag and General Officers Network; Independence Fund; Retired Enlisted Association; Society of Military Widows; and Vietnam Veterans of America. The NVMA joins the American Legion, AMVETS, and Disabled American Veterans in supporting Crist’s bipartisan bill to enhance state and local veterans treatment court programs that support the unique needs of veterans who find themselves in the criminal justice system.

In Congress, the legislation, which Crist is co-sponsoring with U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-CA, has also gained the support of 47 additional cosponsors from both parties, showing growing momentum behind this effort.

Charlie Crist | U.S. House | Politics
Charlie Crist

It is “heartening to see such an outpouring of support from fellow members of Congress and leading Veterans Service Organizations to bolster veterans treatment court programs, better serving their unique needs,” Crist said. “Through these programs, we can help veterans thrive when facing challenges transitioning to civilian life.”

Denham added, “Veteran treatment courts keep many veterans in crisis out of the criminal justice system and get them the help they otherwise might never receive. I look forward to continuing to work to get this bipartisan bill passed to give our veterans the support they need and deserve.”

After serving our country, too many veterans are experiencing mental health issues, substance abuse, and homelessness, which can often land them in the criminal justice system. Crist said that veterans treatment courts provide the counseling, care, and support veterans need to help address these challenges and more successfully transition to civilian life.

The Veterans Treatment Court Coordination Act establishes a program within the Department of Justice, in coordination with the Veterans Administration, to provide grants, training, and technical assistance to help state, local, and tribal governments develop and maintain veterans treatment courts. Currently, these programs are supported by dedicated individuals in law enforcement, the judicial system, the legal community, VA officials, Veterans Service Organizations, and other community organizations.

The bill would provide federal resources for the establishment of new treatment courts. The first veterans treatment court was established in Buffalo, NY, in 2008. Since that time, additional courts have been successfully adopted in state and local courts throughout Florida and the nation.  In 2013, Florida’s Sixth Judicial Circuit Court created a veterans unit to address the unique needs of those in Pinellas and Pasco counties, home to more than 130,000 veterans.

Crist represents Florida’s 13th Congressional District, which includes south and mid-Pinellas County.

For information about Crist, go to

Charlie Crist | Veterans | Mental Health | Health Care | Courts | Veterans Treatment Courts | Tampabay News

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