Veterans’ court to be established in Parker

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Agencies are coming together to establish a special court for people who have been in the military, according to Bill Risen of Parker Lions Club.

A veterans’ court is a special court which tries cases of minor offenses which involve veterans, particularly those diagnosed with service-related illnesses. The first veterans’ court, established in 2008 in Buffalo, New York, has been used as a model for other veterans’ courts in other parts of the United States.

“It aims to treat the disease rather than the symptoms,” said Risen. “The bottom line is, these guys have been in the war zone, they’ve been taught different reactions and different responses, so they need treated differently when they have problems back home.”

He went on to say that the special courts have become quite prevalent. “Lake Havasu City has one, Pima County, Riverside County and many others. They use some military customs and use the V.A. system with followup afterwards to see how they’re doing.”

Entities involved in the establishment process include the Public Defender’s Office, the County Attorney’s Office, the courts system, Probation Department, Board of Supervisors and others. Representatives of the Department of Veterans Affairs are also involved.

“Judge Mitch Kalauli in Havasu is giving us help, and retired Brigadier General Gregg Maxon,” Risen said.

Maxon was instrumental in setting up Maricopa County’s veterans’ court in 2008 and has worked since then on reforming legal entities to serve the particular needs of veterans.

A training session was scheduled Monday in Parker for area agencies who have contact with veterans, hosted by Colorado River Regional Crisis Shelter. Topics included Military/Veteran Culture and Perspectives, the Stress Continuum, Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury, and Navigating Military, Government and Community Resources.

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