A special “veterans treatment docket” has been established for the Prince William County court system.
According to Delegate Rich Anderson, who spoke with several other electeds in a press conference on it this week, said that the program will become effective November 1.
The docket cases will be heard on the fourth Monday of every month.
“It will be implemented as a specialty docket to deal with veterans issues. The model that was used was a docket that’s called the ‘divert docket’…obviously military people returning from deployment who have an engagement with law enforcement often have experienced things on the battlefield, that has caused these behaviors. And it is therefore a mental health issue quite often,” said Anderson.
In terms of assigning individuals to the docket, according to Anderson a magistrate can make the decision to “flag” the individual for the docket at the time of arrest, or later on in the process. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bradley Marshall added that a team of appropriate community stakeholders will also regularly look at cases and recommend ones to the docket.
Once cases have been flagged for the special docket, the case will be heard and will gear toward providing veterans with appropriate support and services.
Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, who was also present at the press conference, brought legislation forth in the Virginia General Assembly to establish the special docket for Prince William.
“I’ve been in combat and I have to tell you it’s very stressful. You lose comrades, you see people who are wounded. You see things that you just don’t see on a daily basis…and when people come out of those conditions, they are carrying a lot of baggage,” said Lingamfelter, continuing, “When [these veterans] are in society, these behaviors pop up and they get in trouble…we have a special obligation to our veterans, to make sure that we give them every opportunity to reintegrate in our society.”
Marshall said that there was no restriction as to the types of cases that can be placed on the docket, but cited DUIs, drug possession, and larceny as examples.
“We’re looking for veterans in Virginia to truly be the best cared for veterans group in the nation,” said Lingamfelter.
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