The Chippewa Valley could soon be home to a new court treatment program that would focus on the people who’ve served our country.
For some soldiers, the transition from a war zone to civilian life can be difficult. And, experts say some veterans need help dealing with what they went through.
"Some of the combat experiences -- for example, when they're exposed to constant explosions, being shot at, the fear of their lives,” said Clif Sorenson, Veterans’ Service Officer for Eau Claire County.
That’s where county leaders hope a new Veterans Treatment Court can help.
“There's a need,” said Judge Benjamin Proctor. “All the judges know there's a need for assistance to veterans who get back from service."
Judge Proctor says the program would offer an alternative to incarceration for veterans who enter the court system – similar to a Mental Health Court.
"Each individual in a treatment court for veterans would have their own mentor who would be an individual -- male or female -- in the same branch of service as the veteran,” said Judge Proctor.
Judge Proctor says the Veterans Treatment Court would provide services in Eau Claire, Chippewa and Dunn Counties. With 18,000 to 20,000 military vets living in those areas, he says a specialized court like this is needed.
"It basically is to try to provide a service that can keep the individual in the community and rehabilitate them,” he said.
Sorenson says the new treatment court could help vets overcome the mental scars of war – like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injuries.
"I think this Veterans Treatment Court is something, almost like a last chance or an extra chance for the veteran to come out positively,” Sorenson said. "I feel that since our vets have put their lives on the line, it's up to all of us to make sure that service is looked at in the proper perspective."
Judge Proctor says he’d like to have the Veterans Treatment Court up-and-running within a year.
He says Buffalo, New York is home to America’s first court of this kind.