OLATHE, Kan. -- A Johnson County judge on Wednesday recognized the first graduate of a veterans program, which seeks to help veterans facing jail time get treatment instead of being incarcerated.
The Veterans Treatment Court, or VTC, identifies veterans who need treatment and supervision. The program can last up to 18 months. The program considers veterans with low-level felonies or misdemeanors, which could include drug charges, drunk driving or domestic violence.
Johnson County Judge Timothy P. McCarthy said it is gratifying to see the changes in the four veterans in the program. One graduated Wednesday. The other three still have a little time left to complete the program.
"They are just different people. When you call them up to the podium, they stand differently. They look different. They look you in the eye. It's just been gratifying to see these guys get back on track and it's all because of, they're going to their treatment at the V.A., they've got a mentor that they're assigned to, they're working with a team of people that are trying to help them through this whole process," said Judge McCarthy.
Judge McCarthy said many came to court to honor the graduate and the program.
In January, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe announced that Johnson County Court would be the first in the state of Kansas to create a treatment court program designed specifically for veterans who suffer from mental health and substance abuse issues related to their military service.
The first class of Veterans entering into the Johnson County Veteran’s Treatment Court occurred on January 13th, 2016.
The purpose of the Johnson County Veterans Treatment Court Program (VTC) is to provide a treatment based alternative for veterans from incarceration into supervised treatment and supportive services; in turn amplifying public safety and reducing the reentry of offenders to the criminal justice system.
Missouri has several veterans court programs, as well.
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