In June 2011, Missoula opened the first Veterans Treatment Court in Montana. The program is for Veterans charged with a crime who have serious treatment issues that contributed to their involvement in the criminal justice system and are most often related to their military experience. Based on the treatment court model, Veterans Court is an outpatient court-managed program about one year long which requires participants to obtain and complete treatment appropriate to their situation. Participants are carefully screened prior to admission and monitored, including drug testing, throughout the program.
Elements of a Veterans Court
- Participation is voluntary.
- Participants served in the military.
- Participants have treatable mental health and substance abuse issues.
- Public safety is a high priority. Participants are carefully screened prior to admission and drug tested regularly.
- Early intervention is essential, with prompt referral and screening. The Court staff provides supervision and case management to participants.
- The Veterans Court staff works closely with the VA, the Vet Center and other Veterans groups.
The Mentorship Program
The Mentors: Each participant is assigned a mentor, a volunteer Veteran, who receives 18 hours of training per year and supports the veteran as he or she goes through the program.
Expectations for Mentors
Our expectation is that the mentor assigned to each participant will attend the weekly court session every Monday at 2:15 p.m. (Other arrangements will be made for volunteers who are not available at that time.) If convenient and agreed upon by the mentor and court participant, the mentors wThe time commitment is about 4-6 hours per month. One of those hours is for a monthly one hour meeting with other mentors to talk about how things are going and for a 15 minute presentation on a training topic of interest. To be a mentor, a person must fill out an application, including agreeing to a background check, attend 8 hours of training once a year (in November) and attend the monthly meeting the first Wednesday of each month from noon -1:00 p.m.