The following is Part Two, from a 4-part series we plan to post over the next couple of weeks, titled “Veterans: A Free Ranging Discourse” written by local attorney and SAV volunteer, Rich DeJean. Part One Part Three Part Four
— Part 2 — (continued)
PTSD VIS-A-VIS THE LEGAL SYSTEM
Many of these veterans were deployed for 10-15 years before they were wounded in combat. As one might expect, coming back into a society which is so dramatically different from their experience in Afghanistan and Iraq can exert considerable pressure upon them, and add in PTSD and/or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and you have thrown them into a pressure pot which many of them do not have the ability to navigate. As mentioned in a previous article in Pierce County Lawyer (Nov/Dec 2017) the City of Lakewood established a Veterans Treatment Court which provides an alternative to prosecution for eligible veterans and which provides an intervention and recovery feature instead of incarceration. Present Superior Court Judge Grant Blinn was one of the initial promoters of this and present City Judge Susan Adams administers it today. The mission of this Court is to assist veterans to reintegrate back into their communities by connecting them with public services they have earned.
Cameron Himes, who is a Commissioned Court Officer in the Veterans Treatment Court in Lakewood told me something that I have witnessed personally and that is veterans in the court system with PTSD respond better when dealing with people who have have had similar experiences. He also mentioned that there are similar veterans courts in Thurston County (Judge Buckley) and Spokane County (Judge Peterson).
Grady Leupold, an attorney with the US Attorney’s Office, who spent seven years on active duty in Afghanistan, told me that in prosecuting service members with mental illnesses who have violated criminal codes, he has noticed that a large population of these suffer PTSD together with physical injuries. He also indicated that the Department of Defense has dedicated considerable resources to provide treatment to these veterans. So if you have a client with a federal criminal charge, be mindful that there might be avenues available other than a criminal trial. Steve Krupa, a member of the Pierce County Bar, in a previous article indicated that he might be a source of assistance for veterans facing civilian criminal charges. Steve is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Reserves.
(to be continued)