Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,490,209)
(Category 3: Statewide)
Amount requested: $1,490,209.20
Veterans are quickly becoming an underserved population. These individuals who proudly served our country now face mental health (PTSD) and substance abuse- related crimes. They endure struggles with homelessness, underlying trauma, and adjusting to civilian life. The veterans in Alabama share in these struggles.
Following evidence-based practices and the 10 Key Components, Alabama established its veteran’s treatment courts not to punish non-violent veteran offenders, but to rehabilitate them into productive members of society. Our military service persons can and do find themselves involved in the criminal justice system. These individuals are not inherently criminal. Most are suffering from mental health (PTSD) and the disease of addiction with an underlying military service-related trauma associated with this need to turn to illicit substances and commit non-violent offenses. Veteran’s treatment court (VTC) allows them to not only pay their debt to society through community service and accountability, but also to receive mental health assessment, treatment, transitional services, and connections to needed veteran-specific support services.
Roughly half of Alabama is considered rural, so for veterans in rural communities, this enhancement is crucial. Rural Alabama is also poverty-stricken with very few resources such as treatment services, support services and local veteran affairs clinics or offices. This lack of mental health, substance abuse, and transitional housing resources is unfortunately aiding in the number of homeless veterans in the state. In order to enhance the veterans treatment courts in Alabama is to critical that veterans have adequate access to resources that include mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, links and connections to veteran support agencies, and transitional housing options.
The AOC’s grant proposal seeks to fund an enhancement or “scaling-up” of Alabama’s 28 existing veteran treatment courts. This enhancement will include hiring a veteran’s treatment court specialist to serve as a liaison between the courts and AOC, hiring a veteran’s treatment advocate to assist the veterans treatment courts in helping identify veterans with the use of Veterans Re-Entry Search Services (VRSS). Additionally, this grant proposal seeks to incorporate more treatment services available to the veterans such as family support counseling, peer support, and connections to the Office of Veteran’s Affairs clinics, local VFW, Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist (VJO) and the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs. Thus, the enhancement will aid AOC in ensuring that veterans treatment courts are operating, up-to-date, and sustainable.