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This North Texas Judge Is Taking His Veterans Court On The Road


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.

Interview Highlights: 

...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."

Justin Martin is KERA’s local host of All Things Considered, anchoring afternoon newscasts for KERA 90.1. Justin grew up in Mannheim, Germany, and avidly listened to the Voice of America and National Public Radio whenever stateside. He graduated from the American Broadcasting School, and further polished his skills with radio veteran Kris Anderson of the Mighty 690 fame, a 50,000 watt border-blaster operating out of Tijuana, Mexico. Justin has worked as holiday anchor for the USA Radio Network, serving the U.S. Armed Forces Network. He’s also hosted, produced, and engineered several shows, including the Southern Gospel Jubilee on 660 KSKY.