Duly Noted

Kalamazoo County leaders discuss need for Veterans Treatment Court

On Sept. 29, Kalamazoo County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Getting, Circuit Court Judge Pamela Lightvoet, Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller, and WMU-Cooley Law School Associate Dean Michael McDaniel introduced the concept of Veterans Treatment Courts and Kalamazoo County’s effort to establish such a court.

Randall and Sharan Levine, attorneys at Levine & Levine, are advocates for the county’s development of a Veterans Treatment Court, and hosted the event at their downtown Kalamazoo office located in the Fifth Third Building.

“We were pleased to present this opportunity to discuss the importance of the development of a Veterans Treatment Court in Kalamazoo County” said Randall Levine. “Michigan is a national leader in the number of Veterans Treatment Courts, and the addition of a Veterans Treatment Court here will address challenges the justice system is ill equipped to solve.”

Getting discussed how VTCs apply drug court and mental health court principles to serve veterans and how the court focuses on recovery issues and adherence to law-abiding behavior.

“VTCs offer veterans access to services including mentoring, mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment,” said Getting. “This treatment and support can help veterans avoid incarceration and save taxpayers substantial resources.  Saving lives and saving money – that’s a win-win outcome.”

McDaniel also presented information on how beneficial a VTC in Kalamazoo County will be. “Veterans Treatment Courts help Michigan’s justice system-involved veterans get back to leading productive, law-abiding lifestyles more quickly,” he said.  “Through VTCs, we can help those who served our country and want to be productive members of their communities.”

Lightvoet, who has been part of the team working to bring a VTC to the county, said she far too often sees those who served our country in the court system. “I am proud to be part of the team wanting to help those who served and have legal issues gain support to be equipped to handle the struggles they may face.”

“For years, we have not given our veterans the proper resources to succeed after they have been put in front of the criminal justice system,” said Fuller.  “I am certain that we can cut down on repeat offenses in Kalamazoo County by simply creating a program that walks through the needs and recovery efforts of our veterans.”