Monday, December 14, 2015

Madison County Building Bridges in Veterans Court

Veterans Treatment Court gives second chances to soldiers who have served 
Madison Record
Hoang Tran
Dec. 14, 2015

Madison County Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli believes in second chances. In particular, he believes that veterans who have suffered the horrors of war should not be abandoned in their time of need.

Tognarelli currently presides over a specialty court created in 2009 to help veterans who have have been charged with non-violent crimes and who are dealing with a drug or alcohol problem and/or a mental health issue, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

Madison County's Veterans Court was the first of its kind in Illinois, and the third such court in the country, said Tognarelli The court combine rigorous treatment for veterans facing incarceration due to charges stemming from mental health and/or substance abuse issues So far, a total of 197 veterans have been served.

It has not only helped veterans who have served in Iraq but from previous conflicts, as well.

Tognarelli said that one in six veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom suffer from a substance abuse issue; one in five show symptoms of a mental health disorder or cognitive impairment. He said that research continues to draw a link between substance abuse and combat–related mental illness.

“We have served veterans from the Korean War, Vietnam War, Bosnia, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Afghanistan," he said. "We have had veterans with significant alcohol and drug abuse problems that have benefited from the treatment provided through Veteran’s Court and the VA. The success rate is quite high, because most are highly motivated to return to a normal life and to re-establish familial ties and relationships.”
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