Merced County Superior Court will begin offering hearings designed specifically for veterans who suffer from service-related stress or substance abuse problems, officials announced Tuesday.
The Veterans Treatment Court hearings will begin July 18 with the aim of providing services to veterans and reducing recidivism, officials said in a news release.
Whether charged with felony or misdemeanor offenses, veterans may be eligible for a “treatment-based, problem-solving court,” the release stated.
There are more than 11,000 veterans in Merced County, according to officials. Presiding over the new court is Judge Harry Jacobs, who served in the Air Force.
11,000The number of veterans in Merced County, officials said
More than 10 percent of veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs.
Jacobs said in some cases the service men and women have many years of “honorable service,” but service-related conditions have caused them to become entangled with the criminal justice system.
“California law mandates that we give them special consideration, and the Veterans Treatment Court offers them an opportunity to get back on track and lead productive lives again,” he said. “It is simply the right thing for us to do.”
There are similar courts in counties around California, according to court officials.