(WHITE PLAINS, NY) On Monday November 9th, just two days before Veteran’s Day 2015, Legislator Catherine Borgia held a press event at the American Legion Post in Ossining to announce that the County will be pursuing the creation of a Veteran’s Treatment Court.  Borgia was joined by local officials and Veterans.

The new Veteran’s Treatment Court would direct veterans with combat experience towards treatment for PTSD and other traumatic brain injuries as opposed to merely the standard corrections process that may push them towards incarceration, without giving them the specific services they really need and to which they are entitled.

The City of Buffalo was the first to create a dedicated Veteran’s Treatment Court in 2008 and was followed in 2013 by the Bronx, who also created and Veteran’s mentor program in addition to the court to address the special needs of men and women who served in combat.      

“Our current culture often speaks of supporting our armed services while they are fighting overseas, but the services available to our veterans often neglect to address the issues many of these Veterans will face when they return home,” explained Legislator Borgia (D-Ossining).  “Creating this entity to show our Veterans there is somewhere to turn for help will greatly improve the channel for recovery for our veterans who are suffering.”

Patrizia Hodge, the Veterans Justice Outreach Coordinator at the Montrose VA said, "There are approximately 700,000 veterans in the United States criminal justice system with charges directly related their Mental Health Conditions, Addiction and Trauma. In Westchester County there are approximately 30-35 veterans incarcerated at the Westchester County Department of Corrections however that number does not include the veterans who have not self-identified as veterans when incarcerated nor does it include the veterans that still have open criminal cases and are out on bail or ROR'd from court.

Having a Veterans Treatment Court here in Westchester County would provide an alternative to incarceration and the veterans would be given the opportunity to receive treatment for Substance/Alcohol Abuse, PTSD, TBI and other Mental Health Conditions that maybe related to their service.   VA Hudson Valley HCS  has both Residential and Outpatient  Programs where these veteran can get the specialized treatment they need.

As of today, there are over 200 Veterans Treatment Courts across the United States including Veteran Treatment Courts in NYC, Nassau County, Suffolk County and Veterans Tracks in Orange County, Rockland County , and Sullivan County.  We need to give the Veterans of Westchester County the opportunity to put their lives back together so they can have a chance to break free of the vicious cycle of untreated addiction, untreated mental health conditions and incarceration".

The Board of Legislators will vote on a resolution, sponsored by Legislator Borgia, in support of creating the Veteran’s Treatment Court.  The final decision for creating the Veteran’s treatment court will be made in conjunction with Judge Alan Sheinkman, the Administrative Justice for the Ninth Judicial District.