- Associated Press - Saturday, November 22, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A federal grant will help the Tennessee Veterans Treatment Court expand services over the next three years so that it can serve more people in Shelby, Montgomery and Davidson counties.

The court allows service members and veterans who end up in the criminal justice system to choose treatment and recovery programs instead of ending up behind bars.

The Leaf-Chronicle (https://leafne.ws/1BKibio) reports the $1.5 million grant will allow the Montgomery County veterans court to increase its capacity from 40 to 78. Much of the Fort Campbell Army post is located in the county.

In all, the grant will allow the program to serve 263 more veterans over a three-year period.

“It’s much more than just a way for veterans to avoid a jail sentence,” said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health. “This is a voluntary decision for a service member who’s arrested on a non-violent offense to seek help, get into recovery and start receiving the mental health and substance abuse treatment they need.”

Officials aim to help veterans find out why they engage in criminal behavior and break the cycle. In addition to assessing, analyzing and treating problems, services including job assistance are available to those who volunteer.

“We have joined several federal, state and local partners to support at-risk Veterans as they go through the process to get their lives back on track through Veteran Treatment Courts statewide,” said Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder. “The wounds of war are not always visible and when we have the chance to connect Veterans with services, resources, treatment, jobs and a second chance we should use that opportunity to show them the same commitment they showed in serving their country.”

Treatment typically takes from 12 to 18 months.

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Information from: The Leaf-Chronicle, https://www.theleafchronicle.com

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