In 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced an ambitious goal to end veteran homelessness within 5 years, yet Orange County is home to a growing number of homeless veterans. The “housing first” model has proven successful, because treating other conditions, such as mental illness and drug addiction, is much easier when an individual is sheltered. We must continue the work to end veteran homelessness – no one who has served this country should be living life on the streets.
In response to concerns about the overall well being of our nation’s veterans as they reintegrate into civilian society, the California Legislature created a specialized court known as Veterans Treatment Court. It states that a person charged with a criminal offense who is a present or former member of the military and suffers from military sexual trauma (MST), traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, or mental health disorders as a result of service may be ordered into treatment instead of incarceration. If the defendant does what is required under the statute, the court may restore the veteran “to the community of law abiding citizens.” We are working to educate the legal community on these life-changing programs and encourage the implementation of similar programs in each state across the country.