BY BRIAN BOWEN, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM DARNELLE O'HAIR
things they carried were largely determined by necessity . .
. can openers, pocket-knives, [and] . . . chewing gum.
Because you could die so quickly, each man carried at least
one large compression bandage. . . . And each carried a green
plastic poncho. . . . In April, for instance when Ted
Lavender was shot, they used his poncho to wrap him up, then
to carry him across the paddy, then lift him to the chopper
that took him away.”
We owe those who served our country a debt we cannot repay, for the things they carried and, for some, the things they carried home with them. This article discusses the genesis and work of the Adams County Court for Veterans (ACCV), formed specifically to serve those who served.
percentage of our veterans return home and transition back
into productive, strong, and vital members of their
communities. Indeed, on balance, veterans are more likely to
be homeowners, own businesses, and vote than the general
It is against this backdrop that, in 2013, I learned that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was using social workers to identify veterans serving jail time in an attempt to provide them additional services and treatment opportunities. As a trial judge, I knew we could do better for our veterans than simply sentencing them to jail. And intervention and treatment, as opposed to jail time, made sense. After all, we owe a great debt to our veterans, who have sacrificed so much to serve. This is where the ACCV journey began.
The Seventeenth Judicial District already had progressive, evidence-based specialty courts, including a drug treatment court. So, when approached about the formation of a specialty court with the express mission of treating veterans, then Chief Judge C. Vincent Phelps not only authorized the new court, but strongly supported it.
While hard data on the scope of the need was hard to come by, no one doubted the need was there. To get going, we examined the 10 key components developed by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, and later modified for veteran treatment courts.3 As modified, these key components are
1. integration of alcohol, drug, and mental health services;
2. a non-adversarial approach;
3. early identification of and prompt placement of participants;
4. access to a continuum of treatment;
5. monitored substance abstinence;
6. coordinated responses to participants' compliance;
7. ongoing individualized interactions;
8. evaluation to measure effectiveness of programming;
9. interdisciplinary education addressing planning, implementation, and operations; and
10. forging partnerships with VA agencies (public and
private) and community-based organizations.
With the key components identified, we spent the next 13 months building the program. This included forming a team, recruiting volunteers, devising protocols, and creating appropriate programs, all coordinated by Tasha Buettenback...