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N.H.'s Second Veterans Court Coming to Lebanon

Thomas Fearon

Officials in Lebanon are gearing up to launch New Hampshire’s second veterans court.

This court will follow the same model as one already running in Nashua. Military veterans accused of non-violent crimes could be diverted away from jail and into treatment programs that address the root cause of their encounter with the criminal justice system.

Training scheduled Tuesday for judges and other officials at the Second Circuit Court in Lebanon will focus on the combat-related issues such as PTSD or traumatic brain injury that may cause veterans to have run-ins with the law.

If a veteran is accused of a non-violent crime in the Lebanon court's region (which in cludes Lebanon, Dorchester, Enfield, Canaan, Grafton, Orange, Hanover, Orford and Lyme), he or she can choose to follow this particular track.

"If somebody goes through this court, they’re expected to appear in front of the justice once a month," says Michael Owens, Veteran Justice Outreach Coordinator at the VA in White River Junction, Vt. "A review is made of their participation in treatment. And the expectation is that they continue to engage in treatment."

Owens says the court can apply sanctions to veterans who don’t comply and provide an incentive to seek help, which veterans are sometimes reluctant to do.

The court is expected to begin hearing cases by mid-August.

Peter Biello is the host of All Things Considered and Writers on a New England Stage at New Hampshire Public Radio. He has served as a producer/announcer/host of Weekend Edition Saturday at Vermont Public Radio and as a reporter/host of Morning Edition at WHQR in Wilmington, North Carolina.
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