Overall, Senate Bill 976 would place Veterans Courts into state law, encourage counties to partner on Regional Veterans Courts, and provide an option for a ‘Veterans Track’ within a county’s problem-solving court.
The legislation received a unanimous vote from both the Senate and House.
“Veterans have sacrificed so much for our freedoms – this legislation shows that we care,” said Mastriano, a retired 30-year combat veteran. “Not a day goes by when I don’t think about a fellow brother or sister who came home and had difficulty acclimating themselves to civilian and work life. Veterans Courts will help provide our American patriots with the stability they need when they come home.”
Mastriano lauded the leadership of Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee Chairman Mike Regan, who partnered with Mastriano in championing the bill.
Veterans Courts are optional and emphasize a team-focused approach.
As part of the system, veterans come before judges on a regular basis and receive mentorship from fellow veterans. Additionally, they are supervised by specialized probation officers and receive treatment and support from the Veterans Administration to address underlying problems often caused by post-traumatic stress injuries. These courts have seen great success with extremely low recidivism rates here in Pennsylvania and across the nation.
The first Veterans Court in Pennsylvania was established in Lackawanna County in 2009. Since then, 24 additional counties have created these special courts. Currently, 42 of the state’s 67 counties do not have a Veterans Court.