Tulsa County Veterans Court Reps Aid In Expanding Program
By Chris Wright, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- A program pioneered in Tulsa continues to spread nationwide.
Representatives from the Tulsa County Veterans Treatment Court returned Sunday from Washington, D.C. They were in the nation's capital to talk to Congress about expanding the program.
Veterans Court is designed to provide resources for vets who have ended up on the wrong side of the law and are charged with non-violent, drug or alcohol related offenses.
On Mondays, Veterans parade in front of a judge at the Tulsa County Courthouse. All have been arrested, and court officials say many struggle with substance abuse. Experts say legal, as well as alcohol and drug problems, are not uncommon for vets. But Instead of jail time, those who participate in this program receive mentoring and substance abuse treatment.
"We actually have veterans that request the Veterans Court. They know that they need help. You can just see the camaraderie in that court," said Matt Stiner, Tulsa Veterans Court Coordinator.
Matt Stiner, a veteran himself, helped launch the Tulsa County court in 2008. Tulsa's Veterans Court was only the fourth one like it in the entire country when it began, and it has caught the eye of other districts across the country.
According to Stiner, there are now 28 veteran's courts nationwide.
"I just think the more we get the word out, the more veterans we can get in this court to get them the help that they need," said Stiner.
A Tulsa contingent got that word out this past week in Washington DC. They met with members of the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Justice. Stiner says Congress would like to see more courts designed to steer struggling veterans in the right direction, and is looking to Tulsa for guidance.
"At least from our standpoint, it was pretty cool that we were kind of the rock stars there, giving out our information, this is how you do this, et cetera," said Stiner.
Members of the Tulsa Veterans Court say they have already helped launch seven courts in various states.