Second chance court targets East TN veterans

Knox County quietly launched a new court six months ago targeting military veterans in trouble with the law. It’s a big move that has the potential to help hundreds, if not thousands of veterans in East Tennessee.

“There’s been a 25 year history of problem solving courts across the country and by starting a veterans treatment court, Knox County is right there in a leadership role,” said General Sessions Judge Chuck Cerny, who oversees the new Veterans Treatment Court in Knox County.

Supporters of the court say the goal is to move veterans who qualify into counseling and job programs rather than simply locking them up for their crimes.

“We think as veterans they deserve a second chance in most cases,” said Frank Vollmer, who served in the Army during Vietnam and now serves as volunteer mentor attached to the new court. Mr. Vollmer helped guide the first graduate of the program through counseling sessions and made himself available around the clock by phone in case his veteran needed advice or simply to talk.

“We’re trying to be their supporter and their friend and that starts day one,” said Mr. Vollmer.

Potential candidates for the court are identified as soon as they run through the booking process at the jail intake center. A form asks if they have ever served in the military. If the answer is “yes” screeners for the court look at their crimes, background, and whether the inmate has an interest in committing to, in most cases, a year long program packed with counseling sessions and work requirements.

“If you can turn a life around there is no further cost of incarcerating that person. Maybe that person pays back the money they stole. Maybe they get a job and start paying taxes again,” said Judge Cerny, who predicts the program will not only save taxpayers money in the long run but serve hundreds of military veterans hungry to make a positive change in their lives.

For more information about the Veterans Treatment Court: 865.336.2624 or www.tnvhc.org

New Veterans Treatment Court to Launch in TN on 9-24-14

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 24, 2014

CONTACT:

Ed Junod    office 336-2624    cell 850-8376

Michael Grider    office 215-4570    cell 363-8681

 

New Veterans Treatment Court program set to launch in East Tennessee

KNOXVILLE – Next week, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, members of the Knoxville Regional Veterans Mental Health Council and other officials will announce a new veteran-specific court program in Knox County. Tennessee Commissioner of Mental Health Doug Varney and Knox County General Sessions Judge Chuck Cerny will also participate in the announcement.

The announcement will be made at 10:30 a.m., Monday, Sept. 29 at the Community Action Committee’s L.T. Ross Building’s large meeting room, 2247 Western Ave. Immediately following the announcement, participants and attendees are invited to take part in a panel discussion concerning the program and its details.  View program here.

The announcement and the roundtable discussion are open to the public. Several elected officials, including members of the Knox County Commission and the Knoxville City Council, may be in attendance.

Please contact Ed Junod with the Knoxville Regional Veterans Mental Health Council or Michael Grider with Knox County for additional information about this event.

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1st Knox County Veterans Treatment Court Graduate

News Release

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

East Tennessee Veterans Treatment Court Committee

865-336-2624

September 10, 2014

KNOX COUNTY — The Knox County Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) celebrated its first justice involved veteran graduation, highlighting the accomplishments of the rigorous treatment program.
The graduation ceremony included Knox County Veterans Treatment Court Judge Honorable Chuck Cerny, TN VA Commissioner Many-bears Grinder, TN VA Assistant Commissioner Don Smith, Knox County Veterans Treatment Court Director Ron Hanaver, Senior VTC Mentors Dean Powell and Ed Junod, VTC Mentor Jim Parker, VTC staff and other participants

Similar to over 150 operational Veterans Treatment Courts in the United States, the Knox County Veterans Treatment Court is a judicially supervised court docket that reduces correctional costs, enhances community safety, improves public welfare and serves veterans involved in the legal system.

They promote recovery and stability through a coordinated response and the understanding that the bonds of military service and combat run deep. Veterans Treatment Courts not only allow veterans to go through the treatment court process with other veterans who are similarly situated and have common past experiences, and also provides them with mentor veterans in Veterans Treatment Court program.

Veterans Treatment Courts expedite access to veteran-specific resources, including benefits and treatment earned through military service.   The VTC coordinates with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care networks, the Veterans Benefits Administration, state Departments of Veterans Affairs, volunteer veteran mentors, County Departments of Veterans Affairs, and veteran’s family support organizations.

Judge Chuck Cerny, Knox County General Session Court, started the Knox County Veterans Treatment Court in January 2014 to serve county veterans in the justice system through a specialized treatment court that focuses on programs similar to an existing recovery treatment program while providing them with an environment that encourages law-abiding behavior.