Veterans Court – Buffalo NY

Back in January Ilona Meagher, of PTSD Combat-Winning The War Within posted about a Justice Court being set up in Buffalo NY to help Veterans who get into legal trouble you can read her post Here

This Court came together with the help of the local Buffalo chapter membership of Vietnam Veterans of America:

Western New York Chapter 77 member Jack O’Connor has put together a program called Veterans Court in conjunction with the Buffalo Police Department, Buffalo City Court Judge Robert T. Russell, Jr., and the Buffalo VA Medical Center. The object of the Veterans Court program is to keep veterans who are arrested for low-level crimes out of jail. The program provides VA counselors to work with these veterans with the idea of getting them into appropriate treatment programs. If a veteran successfully completes the program, which Judge Russell monitors, charges may be dropped and the veteran will not have to serve jail time.

Since than not much has been reported about this needed endevor to help Veterans who go astray of the law, in most cases in their attempts to reintegrate back into society, a society that most haven’t experianced what these military personal have.

The Huge Majority of service men and women, even though reports have serviced, as the military trys to maintain it’s quota’s on enlistment, aren’t criminals, never have been of criminal mind, and most likely never would have broken laws. But when one goes into Wars of Choice, and especially with extended multiple tours, many change as they are caught in a never land of trying to adjust and living with the memories of their experiances unsure of where to seek help or who to talk to. Their actions can than lead to breaking the laws of the land they once served Honorably, loosing their way after that service.

On the 29th, of April, the Veterans Court came into the light, long over due, but well along since the start to report on it’s needed service.

NPR’s Morning Edition did a report on one returned Iraq Veteran it’s been helping, instead of locking up:

PhotobucketNancy J. Parisi for NPR

Iraq veteran Gary Pettengill waits at the bus stop outside the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Buffalo. He is here most days, either to work or to go to drug rehab.

Court Aims to Help Vets with Legal Troubles

You Can Listen Now, brings up NPR Player.

Morning Edition, April 29, 2008 ยท As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan put renewed focus on the issue of veterans’ mental health, a judge in Buffalo, N.Y., has created a special court to assist veterans who wind up in the criminal justice system.

Gary Pettengill wanted to make a career out of the military, but the Army made him take a medical discharge in 2006 after he injured his back in Iraq. At the time, Pettengill was 23 and married, with a third child on the way.

To cope with what he says were empty days and nightmares caused by post-traumatic stress disorder, Pettengill says he started smoking marijuana. Then he began selling it to pay his bills. In February, he was arrested during a drug sweep and accused of being in possession of two pounds of marijuana.

Read Rest Here

PhotobucketNancy J. Parisi for NPR

The VA provides Pettengill with bus tokens to get to and from the medical center. That helps him stay on track with the Buffalo veterans court.


    • jimstaro on April 30, 2008 at 11:41

    Clarence Thomas, National Co-Chair of the Million Worker March Movement and Executive Board member of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10, spoke on April 24th, 2008, at the Iraq Town Hall meeting, in the Grand Lake Theater, Oakland, CA. The ILWU has committed to blocking ports on May 1st in opposition to the occupation of Iraq.


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