LOS ANGELES – Military veterans who risk their lives and
make it back home usually do not return unscathed. Some are
fortunate to return with no physical scars, but many come back with
emotional and mental health problems. When left untreated, the
problems can affect the veteran, the veteran’s family members and
society as a whole.
In recognition of these facts, Los Angeles County will launch
Veterans Court at 10 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 13, in Department 42 of
the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. The Veterans Court will allow
veterans who suffer from mental health problems stemming from U.S.
military service to receive treatment as an alternative to
incarceration for nonviolent felonies.
It is a joint venture among the Los Angeles Superior Court,
District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, Alternate
Public Defender’s Office and the Department of Veterans Affairs
(VA). Superior Court Judge Michael Tynan will supervise. The program
is modeled after the Orange County Veterans Court program and other
similar programs around the country, and is the first of its kind in
Los Angeles County.
Participation in this voluntary pilot program will be offered to
veterans who have served in the U.S. military and suffer from mental
illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury,
military sexual trauma, and/or substance abuse. Veterans Court will
provide eligible defendants the opportunity to participate in mental
health and substance abuse treatment programs specifically designed
To be admitted into Veterans Court, the defendant must meet
program guidelines, and all parties must agree to refer the veteran
for further evaluation. The VA will perform an assessment and make a
recommendation to a specific treatment program that best fits the
needs of the veteran, and gives the veteran the best chance to
successfully address the issues contributing to involvement in the
criminal justice system.
There must be a conviction in the case before Judge Tynan makes
the final sentencing decision. The participating veteran will then
be ordered to complete the recommended treatment plan, and comply
with any other terms and conditions of probation imposed by the
Judge Tynan will supervise and monitor the veteran’s progress in
the program, and compliance with all court orders.