Vet Program kicks off
January 30, 2020
A kick-off event happened last night to bolster the Veteran Mentor program as Escambia County Veterans Treatment Court Judge and veteran of military service, the Honorable Gary Bergosh, resolves to build on previous program success.
The Veterans Treatment Court was initiated in 2015 in Escambia County as a proactive response to justice-involved veterans with non-violent criminal conduct related to mental health and substance abuse issues stemming from military service. The program allows honorably discharged veterans the opportunity to engage in the closely monitored program that requires regular court appearances (a weekly minimum in the early phase of the program), as well as mandatory attendance at treatment sessions and frequent and random testing for substance use.
Veterans respond favorably to this structured environment, given their past experiences in the Armed Forces. “Since establishing Escambia’s Veterans Treatment Court, we have seen decreased incarceration for military veteran non-violent offenders and an increase in the number of veterans receiving substance and mental health assistance,” said Judge Bergosh, a retired Marine Corps officer.
Current statistics reveal that one in five veterans has symptoms of a mental health disorder or cognitive impairment.
One in six veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom suffers from a substance use issue. Research continues to draw a link between combat-related service and/or trauma and substance use.
It is hoped that by keeping veterans out of jail and prison, Veterans Treatment Court saves the lives, families and futures of justice-involved veterans, all while reducing costs to the taxpayers.