Fifth Judicial District of TN


Introduction to the Fifth Judicial District of


Tennessee Veterans Treatment Court Program



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

gallegos_mikeBlount County has one last piece of the puzzle to put in place before it can have a completely operational Veterans Treatment Court.

Division 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 veterans court 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.”

Click here to read the full article

Other members of the VTC team assisting Judge Gallegos in this work:

      • John E. Patrick, Network Director, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) VISN 9  
      • Dr. Cecilia Farina-Morin, Chief Mental Health Officer, VA VISN 9
      • Robert "Rob" Campbell, Deputy Mental Health Manager, VA VISN 9
      • Joe Schoeck, Health System Specialist, Staff Assistant to the Network Director VISN 9
      • Lorenza Wills, Assistant Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs
      • Charlene Ehret, Medical Center Director, VA, Mountain Home
      • Dr. Patrick Sloan, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff Mental
      • Torrie Dorschug, Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist
      • Ron Hanaver, Knox County VTC Director
      • Nathan Weinbaum, Blount County Veterans Service
      • The Knoxville Regional Veterans Mental Health Council
      • Legacy Peer Support Group
      • The East Tennessee Veterans’ Treatment Court Committee 
      • Vet 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!

Justice For Vets LogoThe 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 socially connected.  

“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.



Be a VTC Mentor

 

If you are interested in becoming a VTC mentor please Visit a Mentor Veterans Treatment Court for FREE.

For more information please contact the East Tennessee VTC Committee at 865-336-2624 or

complete the form below.

         
                                                                                           "ALL WE CAN DO IS HELP!" history.


This is the history of the Knox County Veterans Treatment Court inception and the Knoxville Regional Veterans Mental Health Council (Council) and the motto “all we can do is help”


Judge Cerny provided an email to the Council on December 10, 2014 which was included in the Council’s presentation to the Tenth Judicial District of Tennessee members in Madisonville, Tennessee.


 Click here to read Judge Cerny’s email            

                                                                       

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