Returning to civilian live is no easy task for members of the military; a difficult transition can land a veteran in trouble. North Texas Judge John Roach has come up with a one-of-a-kind way to reach those vets: He’s taking his court on the road.
...on what veterans courts are for: "A lot of these veterans are coming from Afghanistan and Iraq with some issues, and instead of seeking doctors' help and all, they kind of self medicate. And so we're seeing with drug problems, alcohol problems, in addition to what they've seen and witnessed in combat, they're with anxiety, some anger issues. And so what we realized is, is that the typical criminal justice system doesn't adequately have the resources to help them through these issues. They have to apply first, and then we have a veteran court team in each of the counties that I go to, and then we decide as a team whether or not we believe that they'll be successful and we can help them in veterans court."
...on the difference between a veterans court and the standard system: "If the veteran successfully completes it, then their charge is dismissed and their record is expunged. That's unlike anything else in the criminal justice system that's reserved just for veterans courts."
... on why Judge Roach created the new system: "I didn't want a random geographical line to determine whether or not that veteran would benefit from veterans court, and so I decided that I was going to take the veterans court on the road, if you will."
... on the response to the traveling veterans court: "I'm now talking to people at the Texas Veterans Commission. I'm invited to a state conference to explain exactly how the regional court goes. I've been contacted by judges from outside of the state, all over the country frankly, about how to do it and try to get my advice on how to implement it, because the entire goal of all of these people is to reach as many veterans as we can."