VLSN believes strongly in the concept of veterans courts or diversion programs for veterans. To that end LB 915 was recently brought to the Unicameral by Sen John McCollister and 8 co-sponsors. We at VLSN are very excited about this program. The bill which Mick testified about on Feb. 5th has begin a three year pilot program in Douglas County (Omaha). VLSN along with dozens of other veterans advocates have been working for years to bring VTCs to Nebraska veterans. We are excited about the program and to have Mick currently serving on the Veteran Treatment Court team in Douglas County.
VLSN will continue to attempt to fill the gaps that other jurisdictions have filled with courts, until the day that a state sanctioned entity can take over. VLSN does not and will not purport to take the place of the public defenders and the defense bar. What we do want to do is help those advocates and the prosecutors, as well as the courts, locate and communicate with the service providers; working to help move veterans out of jails and into programs that will work to meet the specific needs of the veterans who are in trouble.
If you can picture a wheel, the courts, prosecutors and defense attorneys are around the top half. They want to move cases through the system. They rarely have the time to find social services that may place a veteran into rehabilitative care. Their job is to move the cases forward to completion. Now picture the service providers as the bottom half of the wheel. These are your employment, housing, substance abuse, mental health and peer support advisors. They do not want to interfere in the legal process and can be intimidated by the justice system writ large. VLSN will be the hub of this wheel. An organization that can talk to the lawyers and knows who are the providers.
VLSN is that group who you can call to assist in the “warm hand-off” that is not only critical for wary vets, but is absolutely necessary to move the vet forward with care through the system.