Revamped Therapeutic Court offers hope to veterans in justice system

June 12 informational meeting scheduled to discuss updated program

VANCOUVER — Clark County’s Veterans Therapeutic Court, VETCO, was established in 2011 to serve veterans with post-plea misdemeanor convictions at the District Court level. To date, 55 veterans have graduated from the court. Major changes to the program now will allow VETCO to serve even more veterans.

On June 3, VETCO began accepting veterans with pre-plea felony charges from Superior Court in addition to those from District Court. Veterans who successfully complete the pre-plea program will have their charges dismissed with prejudice. These changes are in line with those made to Clark County Mental Health Court in 2018. The court will still accept post-plea District Court referrals.

VETCO staff will hold an informational meeting from noon to 1 p.m. Wed., June 12 to share information with defense attorneys, prosecutors and others who are interested in the referral process and program changes. The meeting will be on the second floor of the courthouse, 1200 Franklin St.

In the innovative veterans’ treatment court model, one judge handles the cases of numerous veterans and addresses them during the same court session, restoring some of the structure and camaraderie found in the military but often lost on the home front. The judge is surrounded by an interdisciplinary team – prosecution, defense, treatment providers, probation, law enforcement, Department of Veterans Affairs representatives, and a team of volunteer veteran mentors all working toward the same goal: to help each veteran achieve recovery and get their lives back on track.

“The VETCO Team appreciates the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Vancouver City Attorney’s Office, and our many other stakeholders for making the vision of this updated model a reality,” said Beth Robinson, Therapeutic Specialty Courts Coordinator.

To learn more about veterans’ treatment court go to https://justiceforvets.org/whats-at-stake/.

In its mission to Leave No Veteran Behind, VETCO is working on reestablishing a volunteer veteran mentor program. For more information on how you can help with the mentor program, or for general information on VETCO visit www.clark.wa.gov/district-court/therapeutic-specialty-courts.

Information provided by Clark Co. WA Communications.

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