Lake County veterans treatment court begins

 
 
Updated 8/19/2011 4:11 PM

A special court program to divert military veterans away from the traditional justice system and toward treatment for the underlying problems of their criminal behavior opened Friday in Lake County.

Officials said cases against three veterans had already been screened and approved for Veterans Treatment Court, and they expected more to join the fold soon.

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Vets charged with felony or misdemeanor crimes can apply for treatment court, which will offer rehabilitation services through the Department of Veterans Affairs and other social service agencies in place of simple incarceration.

Assistant Public Defender Greg Ticsay said the three veterans approved for participation thus far, none of whom appeared in court Friday, will begin their treatment services this week.

"We have identified several more individuals who appear to be candidates for the program," Ticsay said. "We are in the process now of making sure the services we can offer match up with the reasons they are in the justice system."

Veterans are eligible to be referred to programs dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues, substance abuse and homelessness and unemployment.

The VTC in Lake County is the third such program established in Illinois, following similar efforts in Cook and Madison counties.

According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, 71 counties in 25 states have court programs specifically targeting military veterans.