Miami-Dade Veterans Treatment Court
To veterans and family and friends of veterans in our community, last night I had the opportunity to listen to a dialogue hosted by the United Way of Miami-Dade, Mission United, regarding issues veterans face after returning to civilian life, including in our court system. The dialogue was great. I had the good fortune of meeting Tomas Canela, who was deployed in Baghdad as an Army Multichannel Transmission Systems Operator-Maintainer. I learned about the effects of PTSD and how it is a medical – not an emotional –condition (and realized how much more I have to learn about such condition).
I also learned that just last year, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida (the Court with jurisdiction over Miami-Dade County) opened a Veterans Treatment Court (“VTC”) to offer non-violent felony veteran offenders the opportunity to avoid prosecution and improve their quality of life. The VTC is designed to offer treatment in lieu of imprisonment for veterans whose mental illness and/or substance use disorders appear to have contributed significantly to their arrest. The program seeks to divert eligible veteran participants from the traditional criminal justice system and offer them support and rehabilitation through comprehensive substance abuse and/or mental health treatment, education, vocational programs, and community resource referrals for housing, childcare, and transportation, all while being judicially monitored for a minimum of 14 month.
I am so proud of our judiciary for innovating and being among the first courts in the nation to develop the VTC. I ask that you please help me spread the word to any veterans you might know. For more information, you can contact Veterans Treatment Court Coordinator Beth Yegelwel, LMHC, Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building, 1351 NW 12th Street, Room 421, Miami, FL 33125, (305) 548-5296, firstname.lastname@example.org.
To all of our neighbors who served, I thank you for your service. It is because of your sacrifices that we are able to have institutions such as an independent and impartial judiciary. What issues do you view as affecting veterans reintegrating into civilian life?