AUSTIN, Texas - There is a service in Texas for some veterans who have a tougher time transitioning to civilian life, especially after combat.
For over a decade, Texas has set up veteran treatment courts to help veterans in trouble with the law.
FOX 7 Austin's Mike Warren spoke with attorney and veteran Sean Timmons about the progress of these courts.
Mike Warren: Tell us about veteran treatment court. What is it?
Sean Timmons: It's a mechanism to prosecute crimes for veterans charged with offenses without being harsh, and the focus isn't punishment, but rather treatment and rehab.
Mike Warren: What's the goal?
Sean Timmons: Mainly medical treatment and rehabilitation, getting them fixed and back in the position they were in prior to their injuries. The vets are good people, and veteran treatment court acknowledges their service and sacrifice, and understand that many of the issues are behavioral health issues from combat. So someone flying off the handle from PTSD is actually a reflection of their suffering, not criminality.
Mike Warren: The courts are almost 10 years old now.
Sean Timmons: Yes, almost every county has one. Now, the vet must self-identify as an eligible veteran to get access to the court, and must comply with the terms and conditions of the treatment, and attend different treatments. So as long as they follow the guidelines, the charges are usually dismissed.
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Mike Warren: Has the program worked?
Sean Timmons: Yes, for a large number of veterans. Unfortunately, some are suffering so much they've been enrolled multiple times, so local prosecutors will get frustrated on repeat offenders and want to move them to regular court. So I'd warn veterans, if you go through the program, use it to get help and avoid future trouble.
Mike Warren: What's the future?
Sean Timmons: The overall crime rate is down, so hopefully fewer vets will be prosecuted, and the number of vets returning from combat has decreased. But there are still hundreds of thousands of vets who served in Iraq and Afghanistan who are suffering from PTSD and other health care issues that can manifest later in life when there are stressors.
Mike Warren: Sean Timmons, thank you for your time.