New veteran-specific court program set to launch in Knox County and beyond
KNOXVILLE – On September 29, 2014 , Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, Knoxville Deputy Mayor William Lyons, Deputy Sheriff Eddie Biggs, Department of Veterans Affairs Mid-South Healthcare Network (VISN-9) Chief Mental Health Officers Dr. M. Cecilia Farina-Morin, 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 was represented by Director of the Office of Criminal Justice Services, Knox County General Sessions Judge Chuck Cerny and Knox County Veterans Treatment Court first graduate Jeff Hepler also participated in the announcement.Purpose of the East TN Veterans Treatment Court Public Announcement event was to increase awareness and participation of all counties, communities and justice involved veterans in the Veterans Treatment Court process. Click on the highlights to learn more about the event: Program, Honorees, VTC Prayer.
Tennessee State Representative John Ragan was not able to attend, however, he prepared a video for with his vision and support of Veterans Treatment Courts.
East Tennessee Veterans Treatment Court Committee is leading the way in East Tennessee by creating a VTC hub to outreach to all veterans no matter where they live in Tennessee, especially the vets that live in very rural communities where this type of service normally does not exist.
According to the Founder of Veterans Treatment Courts, Honorable Robert Russell, “It works!” It is extremely successful and saves lives and money.
Similar to over 190 operational Veterans Treatment Courts (VTC) in the United States, the Knox County Veterans Treatment Court is a judicially supervised court docket that reduces correctional costs, enhances community safety, and improves public welfare.
Veterans Treatment Courts combine rigorous treatment and accountability for veterans facing incarceration due to charges stemming from substance abuse or mental health issues.
They promote sobriety, 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 the 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, by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care networks, the Veterans Benefits Administration, Vet Centers, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs, volunteer veteran mentors, Knox County Department 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 substance abuse and mental health treatment while providing them with an environment that encourages law-abiding behavior.
Judge Cerny, along with a dedicated team of volunteers and professionals, strive to coordinate mental health and substance abuse services while providing necessary housing and family support.