Editorial: Veterans court extends a helping hand | TribLIVE.com
Editorials

Editorial: Veterans court extends a helping hand

1018020_web1_Veteran-Army-March

A veteran is someone who has proven they understand discipline.

They know how to follow orders.

They get what it means to be a small part of a larger operation, and why every part has a job to do.

That means that when they get in trouble with the law, maybe they aren’t your average accused. Maybe there is a better way to handle someone who knows what it is like to really serve others than a jail sentence and a record.

Westmoreland County will be trying that out with a new veterans court program in May.

“I think we have a need here,” said Common Pleas Court Judge Tim Krieger, a veteran himself, who will preside over the new court.

And that need is growing. Seven years ago, an attempt to form a similar court didn’t go far, in part because there weren’t enough of the low-level crimes that qualified a veteran for participation. Today there is wider eligibility and officials believe it will succeed.

But why do we need a veterans court?

The programs first started in 2008 in Buffalo, N.Y. Pittsburgh came on board shortly thereafter, according to the Pennsylvania Bar Association. Like drug court or a mental health program, the idea was to address minor crimes by looking at the underlying causes. As more veterans have dealt with conflicts like those in Afghanistan and Iraq, there are more injuries, more pain and more adjustment that may be manifesting in criminal courts.

“This is a way to let a person’s service not have a negative impact on their life,” said Westmoreland county Office of Veterans Affairs Director Matt Zamosky.

There are 28,000 veterans in Westmoreland County.

A veterans court is a way to acknowledge that when the tour of duty is over, there are scars that remain — sometimes invisible and sometimes not — that can make it hard to just go back to the life that was there before. Via volunteers and mentors, not to mention understanding and guidance, the court can show that even when the tour is over, no one is left behind.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.