"Wars are the most intense and destructive of human enterprises that traumatize and damage minds and bodies . . . ." Many combat veterans are returning home from Operation Enduring Freedom and other conflicts worldwide. Many are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, mental disease, traumatic brain injuries and other physical injuries that are a result of these conflicts. In dealing with these issues, returning veterans are finding themselves falling victim to substance abuse, domestic violence, and other criminal activity. The Fulton County Superior Court, a pioneer in recognizing its responsibility within the criminal justice system created the Fulton County Accountability Courts VETS initiative to facilitate a multi-agency approach to healing the underlying factors that caused the offender to enter the criminal justice system.
VETS role is to significantly enhance the effectiveness of a multifaceted clinical intervention for veterans that have entered the criminal justice system as a result of substance abuse.
This initiative combines the sanctioning power of the treatment drug court with effective treatment services that seek to break the cycle of criminal behavior and alcohol or drug use. This initiative seeks to address the gaps in the continuum of treatment that are not currently addressing the needs of returning war veterans to this jurisdiction who differ from those within the population we currently serve. This initiative is being accomplished through the purpose areas of planning, research, evaluation, technology improvement programs, prevention and education programs.
Clients accepted into this program have very high risk factors associated with program failure and very few intact protective factors. Most of the participants that have returned to this jurisdiction have sought to deal with the traumas associated with war and re-acclimating to an urban setting by becoming addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.
Generally, a large percentage of the Courtís clients are homeless; unemployed; suffering from chronic diseases due to socio-economic and environmental factors; faced with limited resources for access to medical and substance abuse treatment; faced with an extensive criminal history of arrests and convictions (25% have gone to prison); and addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.
This Court will enhance recovery services and stability through a coordinated response that involves cooperation and collaboration with the traditional partners found in problem solving courts, with the addition of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care networks, the Veterans Benefits Administration, volunteer veteran mentors, veterans and veteransí family support organizations.