Veterans Treatment Court
The mission of the Lancaster County Veterans Treatment Court is to honor the service of justice-involved veterans by providing a rehabilitative program that combines intensive judicial supervision and treatment services to address veteran’s service-related experiences, and enhances public safety by returning law-abiding and productive citizens to the community.
In April 2017, the Lancaster County Veterans Treatment Court (LCVTC) was established to offer eligible justice-involved veterans an alternative to the traditional criminal justice system by providing them support and rehabilitation through comprehensive substance use and/or mental health treatment, education, employment, vocational programs; and community resource referrals for housing, childcare, and transportation, all while being judicially monitored. Problem-solving courts, such as veteran’s treatment courts, drug courts, and mental health courts, were developed across the country to address the often unique risks and needs associated with various targeted justice-involved populations. Similar to these problem-solving courts, the general structure of the LCVTC will require participants to enter a plea before the court, but sentencing will be withheld while the veteran participates in the LCVTC. If the participant graduates, LCVTC shall dismiss the charges. If the participant fails to graduate for any reason, then the sentencing portion of the plea will be executed and the participant sentenced in the normal course.
The LCVTC is made up of an extensive collaboration between the criminal justice system (judge, prosecutor, defense lawyer) and dedicated partners, mentors, mental health specialists, addiction specialists, including criminal justice, federal veterans’ agencies, and local community veterans’ organizations. The target population includes military veterans who have been charged with felony offense(s) and who are diagnosed with substance use and/or mental health issues.
Mentors are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who volunteer their time to assist the Court, providing advice, personal experiences, recommendations and guidance to veterans. Many of our Mentors come from a number of veterans service organizations, the local community and government organizations. Mentors include, but are not limited to, those who have served in peacetime, Vietnam, Desert Storm/Shield, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The mentor relationship promotes and fosters, through encouragement, a “can do” attitude in the veteran. The veteran becomes motivated to accomplish his or her treatment goals, feels that he or she is not alone, and knows that the mentor and the court are there for them. Experience has shown that veterans respond more favorably to other veterans who have served in the military and share similar experiences. The veterans appear to be more comfortable when talking with a fellow veteran because the mentor converses and interacts with the veteran participant as a peer rather than as an authority figure.
For those interested in mentor programming, please complete the mentor form.
The Veterans Treatment Court will accept referrals after criminal charges have been filed and the case has been forwarded to the Lancaster County District Court for further disposition.
Participation in the Lancaster County Veterans Treatment Court is voluntary. Informed consent will be obtained for evaluation and consideration by the LCVTC Team and again at the point of acceptance into Veterans Treatment Court. A qualified justice-involved veteran must make formal application, normally through counsel, to the coordinator. This application requires each applicant to provide detailed information of the applicant’s military service (to include a copy of the applicant’s DD-214), details of any physical or mental ailments and additional documentation.
To request information on eligibility, please contact the coordinator for further details.
The Veterans Treatment Court program is designed to offer justice-involved Veterans the opportunity to remain in the community by through judicial supervision and ongoing treatment programming. The program was designed based on the Nebraska Veterans Treatment Courts Best-Practice Standards and Justice for Vets implementation recommendations. Lasting from 18 months to 24 months in length, the program targets veterans charged with criminal conduct. The program encompasses veteran services throughout Lancaster County, which requires intensive community based supervision through probation, as well as treatment services through the Department of Veterans Affairs for the veteran participants. District Court Judge John Colborn and District Court Judge Robert Otte are the Lancaster County Veterans Court Judges.