- Associated Press - Friday, April 22, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Lancaster County leaders are looking to establish a court just for veterans, similar to the county’s drug court.

County Attorney Joe Kelly told the Lancaster County Board on Thursday that he wants to request permission from the Nebraska Supreme Court to set up a court only for veterans who’ve suffered traumatic brain injury or developed post-traumatic stress disorder as the result of serving in a combat zone.

The Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1qGFiqr ) reports that the board agreed. Kelly now plans to submit a proposal for a three-year pilot program.

“I appreciate your willingness to step up and be a leader on this,” Todd Wiltgen, County Board vice chairman, told Kelly.

County District Court judges would oversee veterans court proceedings, and participants would have to plead guilty to their crime before being allowed to enter the special court. Their charges would be dismissed if they complete requirements set by the judges.

Veterans would receive a mentor and treatment services from local Veterans Affairs mental health providers once they’re allowed to participate in the court.

“The way they’re treated accounts for their service to the country,” he said.

The county already offers a pretrial diversion program for veterans that is overseen by the county attorney’s office, but it doesn’t require participants to plead guilty to their crimes beforehand. The Legislature approved a bill to establish a veterans treatment court pilot project in Douglas County last month.

Kelly said that he won’t ask for additional funding for the program and that he’d be ready to launch it by this fall.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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