Special Court Aims To Redirect Tulsa Veterans From Crime

Monday, January 24th 2011, 6:01 pm
By: News On 6

Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Tulsa will soon have a special court to help military veterans facing city charges. There is already a veterans court for state charges.

It's a lot more than just a special court, it's really a gateway into all services that help redirect veterans away from whatever it is that landed them in court.

When Mike Callahan returned from Vietnam, he says it was hard to adjust from combat to civilian life.

"We were expected just to drop right in and you just don't make that adjustment that quick, if ever," Callahan said.

His own difficult adjustment is one reason Callahan became a service officer with the VFW, and why he supports the municipal veterans court.

"With this we can head them off at the pass. We can pick them up on misdemeanors and get them into the VA system and they won't be felons. So yes, we need this," he said.

The City modeled the new municipal court docket for veterans after one that Tulsa County started almost a year ago.

05/17/2010 Related Story: Tulsa's Veterans Court Program Being Used As Nationwide Model

Veterans facing serious charges are directed into all the services available for them. The new program will do the same for veterans accused of less serious crimes.

"We want to catch the first timers, when they come to County at that time it can still be a misdemeanor, but they've had multiple. We want to catch that first DUI, that first drug charge," said Matt Stiner of the County Veterans Court.

The state and local officials announcing the program said the federal government will cover the cost of all the services. All the local governments do is help make the connections.

"This time of program will help folks who might need a little help, but might not know what's available out there to help, to bring those programs to their attention and help them get back into our society," said Tulsa City Councilor GT Bynum.

Last year 300 veterans went through municipal court, and with this new program they'll get at least 6 months of monitoring and help to make sure they get back on track.