Program aims to help vets arrested for non-violent offenses

On the eve of Veterans Day, a first-of-its-kind program in Louisiana is aimed at giving back to the men and women who have served our country.

“This is an innovative way to reach out to veterans in need to save the taxpayer money, to get better results and to honor and serve folks who have given their all for us,” said Sen. David Vitter.

A new program in the 24th Judicial District Court provides veterans and service members who are arrested for a non-violent offense a new opportunity.

“This is only the second such court recognized by the Bureau of Justice, so we really are leading the way,” Vitter said.

It's called Veterans' Treatment Court Program, and it begins the moment a veteran is arrested.

“The Sheriff's Office at intake will ask if someone has served in the military or works for the United States government," said former Chief Judge John Molaison. "They will target that name.”

The process of being accepted into the program is a multi-team approach, but the district attorney will be the gatekeeper. Once in the program, veterans will receive intense court supervision and treatment for both drug addiction and mental health.

“I think it's extraordinary that you all have built this program that is going to provide for these men and women who have special needs - not something unique, but simply what they deserve to help to level the playing field for them,” said former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.

Veterans may also be able to avoid incarceration.

Currently, the court is reviewing 130 veteran cases.

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