Tester Announces Resources to Help Montana Veterans Recover from Addiction

Senator Announces $325,000 for Great Falls Veterans Court

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced $325,000 to expand the Veterans Treatment Courts in Great Falls and enhance services for its participants. Veterans Treatment Courts provide an alternative to the traditional criminal justice system for former service members struggling with addiction, helping them address the underlying cause of their addiction and putting them on a path to recovery instead.

“Our service men and women risk everything to protect the people of this country and often endure wounds, both seen and unseen, as a result,” Tester said. “We owe our veterans a chance at redemption and recovery, and that’s exactly what Veterans Treatment Courts do. These courts have a proven track record of making a real difference in the lives of many men and women who served.”

The funding comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and will go towards expanding the capacity of the Great Falls Veterans Treatment Court to provide even more veterans with recovery support and care.

Established in November of 2013 by Great Falls District Judge Gregory Pinski, this program requires participants to attend hundreds of meetings and treatments sessions with legal and health professionals over an 18 month period. The program celebrated its first graduating class in March of 2015. Nationally, studies show that 75% of veterans successfully complete treatment court programs and among those successful graduates, 70% do not reoffend over the next two years.

“Too many veterans are winding up in the criminal justice system suffering from mental illness, cognitive impairment and substance abuse. They cannot cope with the invisible wounds of war on their own, and the Veterans Treatment Court gives them an opportunity for treatment and restoration,” said Judge Pinski. “We are deeply grateful for Senator Tester’s strong support for veterans and his assistance in helping them receive the treatment and benefits they deserve.”

As Ranking Member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tester has be a huge supporter of these rehabilitation efforts, announcing more than $1 million dollars to support treatment courts in Great Falls, Havre and Billings last year alone. Tester even visited the Great Falls Veterans Treatment Court to hear from participants firsthand about how the program has helped them.

Tester also recently introduced the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act, which would allow the VA to hire 50 new Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists across the country to work directly with veterans going through the treatment court system to establish a structured rehabilitation program tailored to their specific needs.