Veterans Court - Buffalo NY

Back in January Ilona Meagher, of PTSD Combat-Winning The War Within posted about a Justice Court being set up in Buffalo NY to help Veterans who get into legal trouble you can read her post Here

This Court came together with the help of the local Buffalo chapter membership of Vietnam Veterans of America:

Western New York Chapter 77 member Jack O’Connor has put together a program called Veterans Court in conjunction with the Buffalo Police Department, Buffalo City Court Judge Robert T. Russell, Jr., and the Buffalo VA Medical Center. The object of the Veterans Court program is to keep veterans who are arrested for low-level crimes out of jail. The program provides VA counselors to work with these veterans with the idea of getting them into appropriate treatment programs. If a veteran successfully completes the program, which Judge Russell monitors, charges may be dropped and the veteran will not have to serve jail time.

Since than not much has been reported about this needed endevor to help Veterans who go astray of the law, in most cases in their attempts to reintegrate back into society, a society that most haven't experianced what these military personal have.

The Huge Majority of service men and women, even though reports have serviced, as the military trys to maintain it's quota's on enlistment, aren't criminals, never have been of criminal mind, and most likely never would have broken laws. But when one goes into Wars of Choice, and especially with extended multiple tours, many change as they are caught in a never land of trying to adjust and living with the memories of their experiances unsure of where to seek help or who to talk to. Their actions can than lead to breaking the laws of the land they once served Honorably, loosing their way after that service.

On the 29th, of April, the Veterans Court came into the light, long over due, but well along since the start to report on it's needed service.

NPR's Morning Edition did a report on one returned Iraq Veteran it's been helping, instead of locking up:

PhotobucketNancy J. Parisi for NPR
Iraq veteran Gary Pettengill waits at the bus stop outside the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Buffalo. He is here most days, either to work or to go to drug rehab.

Court Aims to Help Vets with Legal Troubles

You Can Listen Now, brings up NPR Player.

Morning Edition, April 29, 2008 · As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan put renewed focus on the issue of veterans' mental health, a judge in Buffalo, N.Y., has created a special court to assist veterans who wind up in the criminal justice system.

Gary Pettengill wanted to make a career out of the military, but the Army made him take a medical discharge in 2006 after he injured his back in Iraq. At the time, Pettengill was 23 and married, with a third child on the way.

To cope with what he says were empty days and nightmares caused by post-traumatic stress disorder, Pettengill says he started smoking marijuana. Then he began selling it to pay his bills. In February, he was arrested during a drug sweep and accused of being in possession of two pounds of marijuana.

Read Rest Here

PhotobucketNancy J. Parisi for NPR
The VA provides Pettengill with bus tokens to get to and from the medical center. That helps him stay on track with the Buffalo veterans court.

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Thanks for all you do; I'm glad you're out there doing what you can to take care of your battle buddies. And, dang, I'm gone for months with my head in my books, and I return and see my name popping up everywhere here.

Aw, shucks. I'm honored, guys.

On PTSD Combat : Moving a Nation to Care :

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  • On the way to work and remembered You and VA Watchdog did writeups, tried to connect to the original Buffalo News article but they apparently took it down, none of the links worked.

    With everything coming out this program should be expanded, Country Wide!

    I was beginning to wonder when your workload would calm, you need a rest, pretty soon you'll feel as old as us oldies;c}

    Tell the world: My America Doesn't Torture!

    "The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

    ...have an event in Nashville that I'm speaking at on PTSD. I am so rusty that it's going to take me a week to brush up on things. So much has been happening the past month with this issue, and I haven't even had time to update my blog. Ugh...but I'm enjoying school and loving my interactions with my teachers and kids in my classes.

    I'm hoping to be able to write and contribute a bit more in the next few weeks; I'll be off until school ramps up again in August, so it won't be as busy.

    Ha, it's *always* busy for us, eh? [wink]

    Big hug, Jim...

    On PTSD Combat : Moving a Nation to Care :

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  • Clarence Thomas, National Co-Chair of the Million Worker March Movement and Executive Board member of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10, spoke on April 24th, 2008, at the Iraq Town Hall meeting, in the Grand Lake Theater, Oakland, CA. The ILWU has committed to blocking ports on May 1st in opposition to the occupation of Iraq.


    Tell the world: My America Doesn't Torture!

    "The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

    PTSD sufferers will get into trouble with the law in one way or another. Because there's a court specifically put up for veterans, does that mean that the media can fully cover the cases being heard there? Or can a motion to file document under seal be submitted? It's bad enough that they're experiencing troubles, they don't want it scrutinized by the whole world.