Senate Unanimously Passes Tester’s Bill to Bolster Montana’s Veterans Treatment Courts

Senator’s Bill will Support Veterans in Billings, Great Falls, Missoula, Bozeman

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s bill to increase veterans’ access to substance abuse and mental health treatment through Veterans Treatment Courts.

Tester’s Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act allows for the hiring of 50 additional Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists across the nation to work in Veterans Treatment Courts. Veterans Treatment Courts remove veterans from the regular criminal justice process to address issues such as post-traumatic stress and substance abuse.

“Veterans Treatment Courts have been extraordinarily successful in helping hundreds of Montana veterans get the specific and specialized assistance they need to get back on their feet,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “My bill will put more resources in Montana helping veterans address the root causes of substance abuse and get the mental health care they need.”

In a Veterans Treatment Court, a judge works alongside the veteran and a Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist to establish a structured rehabilitation program tailored to the specific needs of that veteran. Tester recently attended a Veteran’s Court graduation in Great Falls and was able to see first had the success of the court.

The VA created the outreach program to provide veterans with timely access to services and to engage veterans in specialty treatment courts.

In addition to the three Veterans Treatment Courts in Billings, Missoula and Great Falls, a new court recently opened in Bozeman. There are only two Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists to cover all four Veterans Treatment Courts in Montana.

Tester’s Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act is supported by the American Legion, American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Justice for Vets, Student Veterans of America, Addiction Haven, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and the National District Attorneys Association.

The Missoula Veterans Treatment Court was recently featured in the second edition of Tester’s #VeteransVoices video series which puts the spotlight on veterans, their families, and advocates across Montana.