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Model, which first started in Buffalo, gives veterans a second chance
Congressman Brian Higgins announced the passage of H.R. 4035, the Real Justice for Our Veterans Act of 2021. The bill provides $3 million annually from 2022 through 2027 for grants through the U.S. Department of Justice to local governments operating veteran treatment courts.
“Veteran treatment courts fulfill a promise to look deeper, recognize the experiences and challenges unique to those who served this nation, and address the underlying circumstances which led to a situation, so we can better help support our servicemembers on a healthy and successful path,” Higgins said.
In 2008, City Court Judge Robert Russell established the first veteran treatment court in the nation in the City of Buffalo. Since then, veteran treatment courts have expanded across the country. Today, more than 400 designated veteran treatment courts work to help veterans caught up in the justice system by facilitating connections to drug treatment, mental health services, peer-based support, and other court-supervised methods.
Grants made available to local governments under the Real Justice for Our Veterans Act are aimed at maintaining veteran treatment courts, increasing the retention rates of veterans directed into the courts and ensuring access for minority and women veterans, while also providing veterans with connections to drug courts in cases where veteran treatment courts are not available.
Last year, the Veterans Treatment Court Coordination Act, supported by Higgins, was signed into law building upon the groundwork laid in Buffalo by Russell and establishing a national veterans treatment court program through the DOJ.