Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Veterans Treatment Courts are responses to the growing trend of veterans appearing before the courts to face charges stemming from substance abuse or mental illness. Drug and Mental Health Courts have always served veteran populations. But research has shown that traditional services do not always adequately meet the needs of veterans. Most veterans are entitled to treatment through the VA. Veterans Treatment Courts help connect them with these benefits.

The Facts:

23,440,000 veterans in the United States
(source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

1.7 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan

(source: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America)

1 in 5 reports symptoms of mental disorder

(source: RAND Ctr. For Military and Policy Research)

1 in 4 Veterans ages 18-25 met criteria for substance abuse disorder in 2006
(source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

1.8 million vets met the criteria for having a substance abuse disorder in 2006

(source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

Researchers continue to establish a link between substance abuse and mental illness.

Veteran Homlessness
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that as many as one third of the adult homeless population has served in the military and that at any given time there are as many as 130,000 homeless veterans. This population mirrors the general homeless population in that:
  • 45% suffer mental illness
  • 75% suffer from substance abuse problems

Veterans in the Criminal Justice System
Veterans are not more likely to be arrested than the general population. But there are significant numbers of veterans involved with the criminal justice system, many of whom struggle with mental health and/or substance abuse illnesses.

A 2000 Bureau of Justice Statistics Report found that 81% of all justice involved veterans had a substance abuse problem prior to incarceration. 35% were identified as suffering from alcohol dependency, 23% were homeless at some point in the prior year and 25% were identified as mentally ill.

Veterans in the Criminal Justice System - 2007
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

Probation - 399,300
Parole-Supervised Release - 75,000
Local Jail - 72,600
State Prison - 136,800
Federal Prison - 19,300
Total Correctional - 703,000
Adults Arrested - 1,159,500

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