The recently established Veterans Court in Lake Havasu City has demonstrated outstanding success and now will be expanding countywide. Mohave County supervisors recently met with city officials from Kingman and Bullhead City. Also at the table were representatives of the Mohave County Superior Court and various veterans service organizations.
The benefits of the court to the community were discussed by Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen and Judge Mitch Kalauli. They reviewed the rapid growth of the court and the benefits to the veteran and their family.
Entry is easy - it's the completion that's difficult. The Veterans Court Program is usually more difficult for the veteran to complete than the usual sentencing. The program usually takes from 6 to 18 months to complete. The veteran's progress in the program is closely monitored to ensure compliance.
An unexpected result of the Veterans Court is the unusually low recidivism rate, which is between 10 and 20 percent. Other types of treatment courts are usually from 20 to 40 percent. Those not receiving any treatment have a 70 to 80 percent chance of returning to prison. These numbers reveal that the Veterans Court works.
Cost savings to the community are reflected in the confinement costs that are saved, as cost for treatment and follow-up would be shifted to the Veterans Administration, court costs would be minimized because the veteran must plead guilty to enter the program, and program graduates would return home as taxpaying members of the community.
Another consideration would include the lessened impact on the families and the reduced impact on the public dole.
This initiative has had an interesting impact on homelessness among our veterans. In the 17 months since the Lake Havasu City Veterans Court started, eight of the nine homeless veterans entered into the system have been placed into housing.
What really makes this program work is the participation of many resource organizations. Judge Kalauli challenged local veterans organizations to complete a list of available resources. Veterans service organizations met to compile the list.
Those organizations include the Marine Corps League, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Lake Havasu City Military Moms, Vietnam Veterans of America and the Jerry Ambrose Veterans Council. What started as a two-meeting initiative is now a monthly meeting and includes many additional resource organizations. These meetings are beautiful to attend and I have learned a lot, but there is always more to learn.
"WE NEED YOU" to become a partner in this process. It really performs well when there is a great support system. You can be a part of that support. The rewards to be found will become self-evident. Please contact me at president@JAVC.org for additional information or to sign on.
There are several articles in the March/April 2015 "The VVA Veteran" magazine, including one by this writer, on the Lake Havasu City Veterans Court.
The link is http://vvaveteran.org/35-2/35-2_azcourt.html
I have been offered the opportunity by the editorial staff of the Kingman Daily Miner to write a monthly column. I look forward to keeping Mohave County veterans and their families informed on relevant news relating to information and events. I would also like to hear from our veterans on issues they want to see in the news. This column is for you, the veteran.
Please contact me at president@JAVC.org with your requests.
I thank all who have served in our military and appreciate the support our veterans have received from their families.