The high prevalence of substance use, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental illness in the veteran population presents unique public health and social justice challenges. Veteran involvement in the justice system has been identified as a national concern. Criminal justice involvement compounds pre-existing socioeconomic stressors and further strains support systems. The point of contact with the criminal justice system, however, presents an opportunity to establish mental health treatment. This is consistent with the concept of the sequential intercept model that seeks to divert offenders with mental illness from the criminal justice system into treatment. In recent years, many jurisdictions have established veterans treatment courts (VTCs), a type of problem-solving court serving this diversion function for military veterans. This article presents an overview of the problem, the ethical basis for their development, a brief history of the courts, and their potential for success. The Harris County Veterans Court is presented as an example.
Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.