Friday, October 24, 2014
My Account  | Login
Nashua;52.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/ovc.png;2014-10-24 19:04:12
Friday, July 11, 2014

State’s first court for veterans opened in Nashua Thursday

NASHUA – New Hampshire’s first court program designed to assist veterans who are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and other combat-related conditions to navigate through the criminal justice system got off the ground Thursday.

The Nashua Veterans Behavioral Health Track will be rolled into Nashua district court’s mental health court program that allows criminal defendant’s to get treatment rather than going to jail for minor offenses. The veterans track will focus specifically on former military members whose crimes are related to illnesses and substance abuse that stem from their tours of duty. ...

Sign up to continue

Print subscriber?    Sign up for Full Access!

Please sign up for as low as 36 cents per day to continue viewing our website.

Digital subscribers receive

  • Unlimited access to all stories from nashuatelegraph.com on your computer, tablet or smart phone.
  • Access nashuatelegraph.com, view our digital edition or use our Full Access apps.
  • Get more information at nashuatelegraph.com/fullaccess
Sign up or Login

NASHUA – New Hampshire’s first court program designed to assist veterans who are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and other combat-related conditions to navigate through the criminal justice system got off the ground Thursday.

The Nashua Veterans Behavioral Health Track will be rolled into Nashua district court’s mental health court program that allows criminal defendant’s to get treatment rather than going to jail for minor offenses. The veterans track will focus specifically on former military members whose crimes are related to illnesses and substance abuse that stem from their tours of duty.

“It’s an opportunity to streamline veterans through the court system and recognize some of the specific issues that veterans face, particularly post-traumatic issues,” said New Hampshire National Guard Brigadier General Carolyn Protzmann. “This court will hopefully shed light on those issues veterans are facing and hopefully push them toward treatment and not incarcerating them.”

Gov. Maggie Hassan, state Supreme Court Chief Justice and Nashua resident Linda Dalianis and Maj. General Bill Reddel all spoke at a short ceremony at the courthouse on Spring Street in Nashua, as did Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau and Judge James Leary, who will administer the new program.

“They experienced injuries to their bodies, their hearts and their minds,” Dalianis said, fighting back tears. “And those veterans who struggle deserve a platoon, or maybe a battalion, of people who care about them and who understand their situation.”

Jo Moncher, bureau chief for military programs for the Department of Health and Human Services, helped form the New Hampshire Justice Involved Veterans Task Force more than a year ago to begin work on the new program. She said just 30,000 of the roughly 115,000 veterans in New Hampshire use services offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Veterans Behavioral Track is another of several ways the state is trying to integrate veteran care with the VA and civilian services, she said, including commissions working on veteran homelessness and substance abuse, and a legislative commission on PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.

“This falls into line with all those other partnerships,” Moncher said.

Leary already oversees the mental health court, called Community Connections, and meets weekly with court clients who have entered binding contracts to attend counseling and therapy sessions and to take medications in some cases.

The program allows prosecutors to suspend defendants’ cases or sentences while they are in the program allowing clients them to enter treatment at Greater Nashua Mental Health Center at Community Council that will hopefully change their behavior, rather than going to jail.

The veterans track will work in much the same way but will also include services from the VA.

“I can’t thank you enough because it’s huge,” Reddel said Thursday. “This is what our veterans deserve.”

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).