Rooney Request for Veteran Justice Advocates Included in House Bill
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Rooney (FL-17) joined his colleagues in voting in favor of H.R. 2147, the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act, which helps veterans more easily access treatment for mental health and substance abuse issues rather than go to prison.
“Our veterans are some of the strongest people in this country, but they too, like anyone else, can suffer from mental health and substance issues,” Rooney said.
One in five veterans has symptoms of a mental health disorder or cognitive impairment. One in six veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom suffer from a substance use issue.
H.R. 2147 implements a $20 million request for Veterans Treatment Courts from Rooney in the 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. This funding will finance programs to reduce opioid use nationwide.
“I am glad my colleagues have included my request for Veterans Treatment Courts in this bill,” Rooney said. “VTCs will help keep our veterans out of prison and on the track to recovery.”
Recognizing the importance of Veterans Treatment Courts, H.R. 2147 would direct the VA to hire at least 50 specialists to provide mental health and substance abuse services in treatment courts, better known as drug courts. These specialists act as a link between veterans, the VA and the local justice system.
Only veterans charged with non-violent crimes in need of mental health or substance abuse treatment are eligible to go to a VTC.