Tester, Pinski announce new resources for Cascade County Veterans Court

Justice Department awards court $300,000 to increase services

(GREAT FALLS, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester and District Judge Greg Pinski teamed up today to make a big announcement for Great Falls-area veterans.

Tester, Montana’s only member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Judge Pinski announced that the U.S. Justice Department is awarding the court nearly $300,000 to increase services, better track veterans’ progress and reach out to veterans’ families.

“Every veteran is affected differently by their military service, and these resources will help the court get each veteran the specialized care they need,” Tester said at today’s press conference. “Veterans return from war with wounds both seen and unseen, and we need to do all we can to support them. Judge Pinski recognizes this, and it’s why he keeps going to bat for our veterans.”

“Since dedicating the court in November last year, we’ve been able to transform and restore the lives of 12 special veterans,” Judge Pinski said. “With this grant made possible through Senator Tester’s support, we’ll be able to expand our court to help more veterans and their families who have found themselves needing assistance in the justice system.”

Judge Pinski established the Eighth Judicial District Veterans Treatment Court on November 12, 2013. Veterans courts funnel veterans into an exclusive system involving a team of judges, clerks, attorneys, councilors, and mentors that utilize the VA system to better match a veteran’s needs while managing their treatment often associated with military trauma.

“One in five Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffers from post-traumatic stress or major depression,” Pinski said. “Last year, more veterans committed suicide than the total number of troops killed in ten years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The statistics of these invisible wounds of war are justification for why we’re here.”

Tester, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee that funds government initiatives like veterans courts, recently completed the veterans listening tour he launched in the wake of reports of mismanaged care at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Tester plans to take the ideas he gathered from Montana veterans at his eight listening sessions back to Washington to help push new initiatives and legislation. On Wednesday, he was in Kalispell to help dedicate the new veterans’ center at Flathead Valley Community College.