Imagine waking up in a world that seems foreign to you—one that’s difficult to navigate and where you feel no pride or sense of belonging. For many who have fought for our country, this is the reality they face trying to transition to civilian life. Their struggles can include finding and keeping a job or a home, managing bills, substance use, and mental health issues—which can lead to minor law offenses.
The Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) is a court-supervised, voluntary program for people who are identified as veterans charged with misdemeanors by the court system. The judge consults with United Way representatives to determine if a charged veteran can benefit from the program. Anyone with prior military service—and regardless of their VA status—is eligible for this program, which pairs men and women with a mentor who is also a veteran. An array of partners, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Baltimore Station, Warrior Canine Connection, Sharp Dressed Man, and more, connect participants with programs, benefits, and services they have earned so that they can live lawfully and independently.
“People have a lot of pride when they join the service,” says United Way Veterans Treatment Court Case Manager Miles Logan, a former infantryman whose service includes a deployment to Iraq. “You go through the rigors of basic training, you learn new skills, and you’re part of a ‘family’ that has a common mission. That gives you a sense of self-worth and confidence. When you’re back home and get arrested for a minor drug or disorderly conduct charge, it can take all that away.
“When I first saw the court in action, I realized how important it was to bring people back into a tribe. It helps restore pride, honor, and a sense of community for those it serves. This kind of support and the second chance it provides is something these veterans deserve.”
Upon successful completion of the program, charges can be removed from the participant’s record. “A clean record is important,” notes Miles, “because charges can prevent someone from getting a job, a lease, or a mortgage.”
VTC participants also take an oath to enter the program and receive a handsome keepsake “challenge coin” when they graduate. “In the military, you take an oath of service,” says Miles. “The VTC oath helps cement commitment and dedication to the program for our veterans.”
The Veterans Treatment Court oath:
“I freely and voluntarily
enter the Veterans Treatment Court.
I promise to uphold the values
instilled in me by the Armed Forces of the United States.
I will carry myself with honor and dignity
out of respect for myself, my country,
and the memory of the men and women
who gave their lives in service to our nation.”
Since its inception, 116 veterans have entered the program. The Veterans Treatment Court currently operates in Baltimore City and in Anne Arundel County.
In this month in which we celebrate Veterans Day, help us fight for even more veterans by supporting this critical program that serves those who have served us.
The Veterans Treatment Court is a collaboration of Judge Halee Weinstein and Judge Thomas V. Miller III, and the District Court of Maryland, the Homeless Persons Representation Project, the State’s Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Public Defender, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, United Way of Central Maryland, and many other service providers. This project is supported by a grant from the Maryland Judiciary’s Office of Problem-Solving Courts.