Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: March 14, 2012
Sen. Frank Simpson
Senate approves Veterans’ Treatment Program bill
Each year, more active and retired military veterans are found
to be struggling with mental health injuries such as post-traumatic
stress disorder (PSTD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), depression,
anxiety, and acute stress disorder. Some individuals turn to drugs
and alcohol to cope with their injuries which can lead to encounters
with the criminal justice system. The Senate approved Senate Bill
1222, by Sen. Frank
Simpson, Tuesday to help address the special needs of veterans.
“Many times, veterans come back from service wounded, physically
and emotionally, which makes it hard for them to return to their
old lives. Because of this we’re seeing an increase in poverty,
homelessness, and unemployment among our soldiers,” said Simpson,
R-Ardmore. “Unfortunately, many are also finding themselves
getting caught up in the legal system because they haven’t
gotten the counseling and therapy they so desperately need.”
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections recently conducted a survey
of inmates and found there were over 1,500 incarcerated offenders
with military experience in the state’s correctional system.
Senate Bill 1222 authorizes any district or municipal court to establish
a Veterans’ Treatment Program. These programs would utilize
specially trained court personnel to expedite the case and explore
alternatives to incarceration for veterans or service members charged
with criminal offenses who are in need of treatment for PSTD, TBI,
mental health issues, or substance abuse treatment.
The measure allows the jurisdiction to request assistance from the
Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs, or other community-based programs
for assistance and for treatment services. Funding for the programs
will come from the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Veterans’ unique issues deserve special consideration
and attention. Veterans courts around the country are proving successful;
and given our state’s large veteran population, we need more
of them to help our heroes get their lives back on track,”
The first Veteran Treatment Court was created in 2008 in New York.
Since then others have been launched in more than 50 cities and
counties across the country. Oklahoma, Tulsa and Creek Counties
currently already have special veterans’ court programs and
Comanche County is working on creating one.
SB 1222 will now move to the House for further consideration.
For more information contact:
Sen. Simpson: (405) 521-5607