Veterans in the Pinellas-Pasco court system suffering from service-related conditions such as PTSD will have now have a unit specifically dedicated to their issues.
The State Attorney's Office announced the creation of a Veterans Mediation Unit on Wednesday as an expansion to the existing Veteran's Drug Court.
"We as Americans have asked these young men and women to serve us in some of the most dangerous theaters on earth," State Attorney Bernie McCabe said in a news release, "yet when they return, sometimes they are forgotten. In creating this Veterans Mediation Unit, we will select qualifying combat-exposed veterans and offer them an opportunity to have access to a program focused on rehabilitation not retribution."
The circuit currently dedicates a calendar for veterans who meet drug-court criteria, but this is the first veterans' only court program.
The unit will begin accepting applications from veterans on Sept. 1. Eligibility is based on the nature of the charge, input from victims and service-related information.
Assistant State Attorney Chris Sprowls will oversee the project.
"The creation of this program will provide opportunity for veterans to receive treatment for issues stemming from their service to this country," Sprowls said in the release. "The model here is smart justice — making sure that we prioritize treatment over incarceration so that veterans do not fall through the cracks and do not re-offend."