According to the Bureau of Justice, about half of all veterans in prison or jail have a mental disorder.
That’s where the Veteran Court Program comes in.
It aims to keep veterans who have committed low-level criminal offenses out of the traditional criminal system.
Right now, more than 180,000 U.S. veterans are locked up.
“99% of our soldiers, sailors or marines should not be in the penal system. It’s just something that got away from them. If we can fix them, fine,” said Frank Minosky, Mentor Coordinator with Fort Hood Vets Court. “If there’s a medical nexus, if they already have TBI in their records, if they have PTSD in their records then it’s pretty much a wash that they are going to commit.”
If left untreated, mental health issues can lead a veteran to unemployment, homelessness and arrest.
“What I’ve been seeing all along is DWI’s, substance abuse, and anger management. We’ve been able to tie all of those back to the military,” said Minosky.
The Vet Court Program provides an alternative to incarceration.
“It’s a way of giving back you know, like I said, all vets have struggles, even I do. But, like I said, that’s our way of giving back,” said William Barker, Mentor with Vets Court Program.
Barker is a long-time mentor, he was in the military for 23 years and loves helping other veterans.
“It’s nothing for us, it’s all volunteer, we don’t get paid or nothing. This is our time that we spend with the veterans,” said Barker.
Offering them not only treatment, but also connecting them to benefits they earned like health, education and disability.
“And now that they’ve been in these group sessions, and these mandatory sessions at the VA they finally realize they have an issue, how to deal with it,” said Minosky.
All, to give veterans with mental health issues, the opportunity to get their life back on track.
“Keeps these soldiers from having bad things on their records,” added Minosky.
And, return them to the life they fought so hard to protect.
“We talk about leave no soldier behind, well, if this soldier for life is actually soldier for life, well, they are still soldiers even though they are out,” said Minosky.
There are certain requirements to be eligible for the Vets Court Program, a veteran must have a mental health issue that relates to their military service or the criminal offense.
If you are interested in becoming a mentor in Bell County or Fort Hood, email Frank Minosky at firstname.lastname@example.org.