Special Courts Deal With Problem Vets
New system aims to rehabilitate returning troops
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 10, 2009 12:31 PM CDT
Daniel Kind stands before Judge Robert Russell during a Veterans Court session in Buffalo, NY, on June 3, 2008.    (AP Photo/Don Heupel)
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(Newser) – After returning from war, many “perfectly good kids” struggle with drugs and criminal behavior, but a new trend could help, the Los Angeles Times reports. Veterans courts are springing up around the country, offering an alternative route to justice—and recovery—for troubled former troops. “If they've been damaged and injured in the course of their service and we can help them become stable, we must,” a judge said.

Some 100 vets have stood in the first such court, opened last year in Buffalo, NY, and only two have ended up back in traditional courts. Most veterans courts will see only nonviolent criminals; they’re required to plead guilty and must commit to regular court visits, counseling, and testing as a trade-off for suspended sentences. “In veterans court, you have a sense of pride," one vet said. "You don't feel like you're going through this alone."