Michigan leads nation in veterans treatment courts that solve problems and save lives

As the nation collectively observed Veterans Day last week and reflected on the sacrifices of our military veterans, the Michigan Supreme Court reminded the state that Michigan leads the nation with 22 veterans treatment courts to support those who have struggled with the transition back into civilian life.

“Many of our service men and women continue to fight difficult battles long after they leave the military,” said Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. “In the past, courts were not equipped to deal with their unique challenges.  By connecting veterans with the help they need, Michigan’s treatment courts are solving problems and saving lives.”

Under the Supreme Court’s strategic priority of improving outcomes, the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) supports these courts around the state by connecting them with the funding they need to operate, recently granting $500,000 to veterans treatment courts across Michigan for Fiscal Year 2016.

In addition to funding, SCAO provides operational support and valuable resources, including a new a manual for judges interested in starting veterans treatment court programs. Currently, SCAO is working with three more courts who are interested in starting veterans treatment courts.

Judge Terrence Bronson presides over one of the state’s newest courts, the Monroe County Veterans Treatment Court in the 1st District Court. A United States Navy veteran, Judge Bronson felt compelled to pursue this court model.  “People sometimes ask why veterans deserve this treatment, and I say, ‘Because they give their lives,’” said Judge Bronson.

Since it became operational in 2014, Judge Bronson’s court has graduated two veterans, and currently has 20 participants.

Veterans treatment courts promote sobriety, recovery, and stability through a coordinated response that involves collaboration with a variety of traditional partners found in drug courts and mental health courts, as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs, volunteer veteran mentors, and organizations that support veterans and veterans’ families. For more, informaiton, visit www.courts.mi.gov/vetcourts.