Veterans Courts

Attorney John Cascone has represented a multitude of veterans referred to VTC (Veterans Treatment Court) helping each to successfully complete the program.
John Cascone was not in the military.

Veterans courts are designed to assist justice-involved defendants with the complex treatment needs associated with substance abuse, mental health, and other issues unique to the traumatic experience of war. Some veterans returning home from war find it difficult to integrate back into the community. Veterans with untreated substance abuse or mental health illnesses, including those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), may find it even harder to return home, which can sometimes lead to criminal activity.

Veterans courts involve cooperation and collaboration with traditional partners found in drug courts, such as the state attorney, public defender, case manager, treatment provider, probation, and law enforcement. Added to this interdisciplinary team are representatives of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the Veterans Benefit Administration- as well as State Departments of Veterans Affairs, Vet Centers, Veterans Service Organizations, Department of Labor, volunteer veteran mentors, and other veterans support groups.

The most obvious distinction between a veterans court and other problem-solving courts is that it limits participation to current or former members of the military. Some of the other differences include the veterans court team encompassing at least one member who is familiar with veteran and military culture, terminology, benefits, and any other veteran or military issues that may arise.

Veterans courts make use of the camaraderie that exists among all veterans. An essential part of veterans court is the addition of volunteer veteran mentors to assist their fellow veterans with a wide array of support. They are principal to the veterans court team and the participants. Their interaction with the participant, including a supportive relationship, maintained throughout the program, increases the likelihood that the participant will remain in treatment and improves the chances of success and sobriety. Veteran mentors volunteer their time and energy to assist their fellow veterans with peer support, housing, employment linkages, job training, education, transportation, disability compensation claims, discharge status and other linkages available at the local, state and federal level.

Furthermore, the VHA plays a key role in veterans court as their services are provided to justice-involved veteran participants. Veterans treatment courts leverage resources available from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to serve these offenders treatment needs.

Current Status

As of June 2020, Florida has 31 veterans courts in operation.

The components of veterans courts, from The Ten Key Components of Veterans Treatment Court, Justice for Vets (a division of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals):

  • Integration of alcohol, drug treatment, and mental health services into justice system case processing
  • Non-adversarial approach
  • Early identification of eligible participants
  • Continuum of services
  • Alcohol and drug testing for abstinence
  • Coordinated strategy for responses to participants’ compliance
  • Ongoing judicial interaction
  • Monitoring and evaluation for program effectiveness
  • Interdisciplinary education
  • Partnerships with stakeholders

Publications and Resources

Veteran Resource Guide for the Florida State Court SystemPDF Download

This 2014 guide, prepared by the Florida Supreme Court Task Force on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues in the Court, provides information regarding Florida’s veterans courts, mental and physical health issues related to veterans, veterans benefits, a judicial benchguide, and more.

Since the Veterans Resource Guide for the Florida State Court System was published in 2014, there have been changes to the Florida statutes that govern veterans courts. These changes may have implications on your veterans courts. In addition, since the guide’s publication, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of veterans courts statewide. The guide has been updated to include these changes.

Justice for Vets

This site includes resources for veterans and their families, as well as resources for court professionals.