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Veterans court

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader

2013-11-14


Important news for military veterans who suffer from serious mental or physical health issues and who face criminal charges in Allen County. Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull and Allen Circuit Court Judge Tom Felts recently announced the creation of a Joint Veterans Treatment Court. Eligible veterans who successfully complete the lengthy and intense program could be rewarded with reduced or even dismissed criminal charges.

The special ďproblem solvingĒ court will supervise eligible military veterans within the Allen Superior Courtís Drug Court and/or the Allen Circuit Courtís Restoration Court. Additional treatment will be provided by the VA Hospital. A person charged with a qualifying crime must first be referred to the Veterans Court by the Allen County Prosecutorís Office.

The Allen County judges and their highly trained support staff already run some of the most successful and innovative problem solving courts within the state and nation. The Veterans Court will positively impact the community and, most importantly, will give veterans an opportunity to drastically improve their lives and well-being.

Meet Robert. Robert isnít a real person. After high school, Robert joined the Army National Guard. Five years later, he was in Afghanistan for his first of two tours of duty.

While in Afghanistan, Robertís job was to protect soldiers who were disarming bombs. Robert witnessed friends and strangers die. He survived more attacks than he could count. Daily firefights were the norm. Robert developed herniated discs in his back when a truck he was traveling in overturned.

His back pain seemed to get worse once he returned to his parentsí home in Indiana. So too did everything else in his life.

Robert lives in his parentsí basement. His folks know their son is not the person he used to be. They love him and they are proud, but they know something is wrong. Both his mom and dad have encouraged him to see his counselor again. Robert refuses to go.

Robert canít seem to find employment that lasts. He feels lost and alone. When he was at war, he had a purpose. Now, he gets angry and frustrated several times an hour. Heís detached and struggles to fit in with everyday life. Some days, Robert drinks until he passes out. Other days, he thrill seeks. Every night, he has nightmares. Robertís mental health is getting worse.

In a few days, police will find Robert acting erratically and hiding underneath his car on the side of the road. Robert will refuse, initially, to listen to the police officerís commands for him to come out from underneath his car. The officer will find a pipe, pills and an iPad that Robert will admit to the officer was stolen.

Robert will be arrested and charged with several crimes.

With the structure and guidance of the Veterans Court, the VA Hospital and many others, Robert will turn his life around. His post traumatic stress disorder will improve and so will his outlook.

It will be a long process, but Robert will find his way thanks to the hard work and dedicated efforts from the judges, prosecutors, case managers and other supporters.

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Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at jterrill@fortwaynedefense.com. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you.

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