The Texas Veterans Commission gave out nearly $2 million to fund several San Antonio area organizations that support struggling veterans. About $200,000 of that will fund specialty courts that help veterans who have broken the law get their lives back on track.
Bexar County Precinct 3 Commissioner Kevin Wolff is a veteran, and said sometimes it makes sense to take a different approach when veterans break the law.
"If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Well, guess what? There are more tools than just hammers and everything is not a nail,” Wolff said. “So if we're talking about veterans and their special circumstances, you need tools for that.”
The Veterans Specialty Treatment Courts include a misdemeanor and a felony court. The judge in that court, Wayne Christian, is a veteran himself. Wolff said, “To say he runs it like it’s back in the military would be an understatement.”
That works for veterans, though, Wolff said. He added, “Part of the difficulty in transitioning from active duty back into the civilian sector is it’s a brand new world and you’re not used to it and you make mistakes, so being brought back into that sort of environment and to help them make that transition more effective, I think those specialty courts do a tremendous job.”
Many of the veterans that end up in the court system include those struggling with substance use disorders and mental health issues like post traumatic stress disorder. If they stick with a year-long program that includes mental health counseling, drug and alcohol testing, and community service, they may be able to avoid jail time.
The Texas Veterans Commission also gave the Bexar County Veterans Mental Health Program $150,000 dollars to help fund its outpatient counseling programs.
Some of the money for these grants comes from the sale of scratch off tickets sold by the Texas Lottery Commission.