The Nation's first drug treatment court specifically developed for veterans was started on January 4, 2008, in Buffalo, New York, by Judge Robert Russell. On September 1, 2009, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) made an award under its Drug Court Program to the newly established Buffalo Veterans Drug Treatment Court. With the success of this court and many more following, in 2013, the Department of Justice began receiving a separate appropriation for veterans treatment courts (VTCs). In 2020, Congress passed the Veterans Treatment Court Coordination Act of 2019 directing the Attorney General to establish and carry out the Veterans Treatment Court Grant Program, which is managed by BJA.
The Veterans Treatment Court Program supports state, local, and tribal efforts to plan and implement or enhance the operations of veterans treatment courts. These courts effectively integrate evidence-based substance use disorder treatment, mandatory drug testing, incentives and sanctions, and recovery support services in judicially supervised court settings that have jurisdiction over veterans involved in the justice system who have substance use disorders, including a history of violence and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their military service. Funding can also support efforts at the state level to assess, collect data, evaluate, training and build or enhance local or tribal VTCs, or to increase the identification and access to services for those underserved.