Judge Michael Gallegos, Fifth Judicial District General Sessions Court, began the formation of a Veterans' Treatment Court (VTC) on January 12, 2015. Judge Gallegos is working to identify Justice-Involved Veterans (JIV) out of a total 12,198 veterans in the District. Partners in this work include the Blount County Law Enforcement, Judiciary and District Attorney General's office. The goal is to have the Fifth Judicial District Veterans Treatment Court operational by summer 2015. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs National
Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, the Fifth Judicial District
veteran population is 12,114 in 2015.
The national movement has helped create over 200 Veterans Treatment Courts in the United States.
In 2008, Honorable Robert Russell founded of the Buffalo Veterans Treatment Court and the VTC
movement. The program's focus is to address specific issues and problems unique to our military veterans.
The Daily Times, (Maryville, TN) By Joel Davis
DATE: March 25, 2015
Blount County has one last piece of the puzzle to put in place before it can have a completely operational VeteransTreatmentCourt.
II General Sessions Judge Michael A. Gallegos told the County Budget
Committee on Monday that fully funding the Fiscal Year 2015-16 budget
request for the existing Drug Court program will let the nascent veterans program kick into gear.
”All that we lack to forming a fully functioning veteranscourt
is the county’s participation,” he said during a telephone interview on
Tuesday. “I have already spoken with and have commitments to
participate from the appropriate state and federal agencies.”
Knoxville Regional Veterans Mental Health Council
Peer Support Group
East Tennessee Veterans’ Treatment Court Committee
to Vet Tennessee
Dave Telando, Dennis Lovin, Luanne Lovin, Ed Junod, Fifth Judicial District VTC
veteran mentors and Blount County residents
First Published VTC Study Shows Incredible Success!
The Community Mental Health Journal
has released the first published study on Veterans Treatment Court and
the results are outstanding. Researchers from the Ohio Department of
Mental Health and Addiction Services tracked 86 veterans involved with
Veterans Treatment Court, all of whom were diagnosed with Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD). They found that 89.5% remained arrest-free
during their time in the program and concluded that the veterans
participating in Veterans Treatment Court experienced significant
improvement with depression, PTSD and substance abuse as well as with
critical social issues including housing, emotional wellbeing,
relationships, and overall functioning.
The study further concluded that mentoring from volunteer veterans
is particularly effective. Veterans who received mentoring not only
experienced better clinical outcomes, they reported feeling more
“Veterans reported better treatment outcomes
and quality of life over time when involved in the Vet Court,” the
study states. “When provided programs and services that fostered
recovery, veterans improved markedly on all study measures. Veterans
particularly improved when provided a combination of trauma-specific
treatment, peer mentor services, and medication. The importance of
trauma-specific therapy and positive peer role models may be important
for veterans with combat exposure who have re-integrated into a society
unfamiliar with the struggles associated with combat experience.” Access the full study here.
The Fifth Judicial District Veterans Treatment Court program offers coordinated
substance abuse and mental health support to military veterans caught
up in the criminal justice system. Each veteran is assigned
a substance abuse counselor and also offered a “mentor” who is a
veteran him or herself. The veteran participants are provided
veteran-specific sessions in conjunction with the other sessions and
therapies offered to all recovery court participants.
April 10, 2015. Judge Gallegos participates in the East Tennessee Veterans Treatment Court's Mentor Orientation and meets Jack O'Connor and Patrick Welch, Ph.d. (featured speakers from the Buffalo VTC.)
And State Representative John Ragan also attended and continues to be the VTC visionary in the State of Tennessee.
While the criminal court system generally has a
recidivism rate often exceeding 90%, recovery court programs reduced the rate
to 20-30%; the national average for graduates of VTC programs is less than 10%,
and often less than 4% when mentors are used. The VTC helps reduce crowded
jails, offers a better chance of recovery for the veteran, helps maintain a
more normal “nuclear family” environment for spouses and children, and allows
the veteran to become – again – a proud and productive member of society and
his or her community.