The 17th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida is forming a Veteran's Court division in Broward County, designed to provide rehabilitative services to veterans facing criminal charges, reports the Miami Herald. It will function like a drug court, helping vets to avoid incarceration through comprehensive, court-monitored programs that address the underlying issues, which are often related to post traumatic stress disorders.
The opening is part of a larger movement to help vets across Florida. Legislation that would allow the establishment of separate courts for veterans was unanimously passed in House Appropriations Committee. The chief judge in each judicial circuit would be allowed — but not required — to create a vet court. Two similar bills are making their way through the Senate. When the Broward court opens later this year, South Florida will have three courts available to the region's nearly 287,000 veterans. Thousands more are expected to return from Iraq and Afghanistan as the United States continues its military pullouts.