An average of 22 U.S. military veterans commit suicide every day, perhaps the best measure of the mental health crisis among veterans. And 130 special courts for veterans in 40 states are tackling that problem, reports the Washington Post. The first started in Buffalo in 2008, modeled on the drug courts that have significantly reduced recidivism rates by substituting treatment and other support programs for incarceration.
Former Marine Corporal Eric Gonzales, who served in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, was facing a nine-year prison sentence, so he was eager to opt for oversight from Judge Wendy Lindley's veterans court in Orange County, Ca. He “graduated” from the program in September. Yesterday, the 23-year-old stepped up to a podium at a Washington, D.C., hotel and addressed a crowd of about 900 as the first speaker at the first national training conference for those who work in such courts.