Fact: Veterans are more likely to experience medical and mental health issues (such as PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Depression and Anxiety) and are less likely to be diagnosed. Though sentencing is always at the discretion of the judge, clients with military service often have tailored options available to them.
Veterans returning from combat may suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or may have difficulty reintegrating into society. Due to alienation and lack of support, some veterans fall into drug and alcohol abuse or develop mental health issues. An arrest is always a traumatic event, but sometimes it can open a door to the help that a client needs to get life back on track.
If you or someone you know has been arrested and needs help with substance abuse or mental health challenges, ask us how we can help. The Social Services Department of the Office of the Public Defender, 9th Circuit, can determine eligibility to various programs and services and help ensure that the underlying issues are treated. Our office offers a unique type of assistance to help clients avoid the revolving door of the criminal justice system and resolve the underlying problems that led to the arrest.
Though not appropriate in all cases, some clients may also benefit from Veteran’s Court. This and other tools are available to help veterans with their unique challenges. Mentors may also play a supportive role in the healing process for our veterans.
Closely linked to the criminal justice system is the homeless population. A 2016 report found that approximately 8.6 percent of Florida’s homeless population are veterans. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 50 percent of homeless veterans nationwide suffer from serious mental illness and another 70 percent have substance abuse problems. Nationally, an estimated 132,847 veterans were living in an emergency homeless shelter or transitional housing in 2015. This accounts for one out of every 163 veterans in the U.S. or one out of every 11 veterans living in poverty.