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North Texas Veterans Court fights for military veterans

Jim Hardin

Rockwall Herald Banner

September 25, 2016

A special regionwide initiative called the North Texas Veterans Court is an effort to fight for military veterans “who have fought for us.”

“Many of us – in fact I would believe that everyone in this room – believe that those who fought for us deserve for us to fight for them,” Rockwall County District Attorney Kenda Culpepper said on Sept. 16 during the North Texas Regional Veterans Court dedication ceremony held in the Rockwall County Courthouse.

“Every single day, men and women put their lives on the line for us,” she said. “They are deployed overseas and they face unspeakable fear and find themselves in an incredible number of traumatic situations. I honestly cannot imagine the fear and the traumatic situations they find themselves in every day, and they do it every day, over and over and over again.” Because of those situations, she said, some men and women come home with substance abuse and mental health issues. And these situations create family issues that sometimes lead to family violence problems.

Veterans struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues will now be able to access the help they need through a special regionwide initiative – the North Texas Veterans Court.

Encompassing five counties – Rockwall, Collin, Kaufman, Grayson and Fannin – the state’s first regional veterans court will serve as a test site for this unique approach to assisting men and women who have served in the country’s military.

Officials attending the dedication ceremony included Senator Bob Hall, Texas Veterans Commission Executive Director Thomas Palladino and Mary Murphy, judge of the First Administrative Judicial District, along with about 200 city and county officials, veterans groups and organizations, and veterans.

The North Texas Veterans Court will work to divert veterans and service-oriented mental health or substance abuse disorders out of the traditional court system and into long-term treatment solutions and supervision. This model also provides a support system with other veterans in the court and a mentor to assist throughout the process.

While the veterans court approach has been employed in other areas, this is the first time the initiative is being tried in a five-county, regionwide format.

“Many veterans need help transitioning to civilian life, especially in rural areas that may not have the resources that large cities have at their fingertips,” explained Roach, the Texas state judge who is pioneering and overseeing this regionwide initiative. “The multicounty model is a way to broaden these important services to other areas of the country to assist more veterans seeking help.”

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