Congressman Patrick Meehan (PA-07) today welcomed Jennifer Lopez, Chester County Deputy Director of Probation and Parole, to the United States Capitol to testify before the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science on the effectiveness of Chester County's Veterans' Courts program and the importance of continued federal support for Veterans' Courts across the country.
$4 million in federal funding for Veterans' Treatment Courts was included in the government funding legislation passed by the House today. The bill now goes to the President for his signature. This is the first time federal funding passed by Congress will go to fund local veteran treatment courts.
"Veterans Treatment Courts are modeled after Drug Courts, the most successful, cost effective, scientifically validated criminal justice intervention in the past 20 years," said Lopez. "Our entire staff dedicates their time to Veterans Courts in addition to other responsibilities. We are not unlike many jurisdictions, driven by judges and former service members who saw a need in our community. We can no longer do it alone. In order for all jurisdictions to effectively respond to and assist the growing number of veterans entering the criminal justice system by establishing and expanding Veterans Treatment Courts there must be support. It is time to make Veterans Courts available to all those in need."
Today's hearing was on appropriations for commerce, science, justice and related programs for fiscal year 2014. Lopez was joined by Bill Kelly, Coordinator of Chester County's Veterans Court system.
"Veterans' Court programs across the nation are proving to be a tremendous success," said Rep. Meehan. "Tens of thousands of American veterans are returning home from conflicts overseas, and the sad reality is that many will struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other mental illnesses. Veterans' Court programs help these veterans get the treatment they need to cope with their disorders and keep them out of prison."
"We owe it to our veterans to do everything we can to ease their adjustment back into civilian life. I am grateful to Jennifer and Bill for coming here today and illustrating the importance of federal support for this vital program," Meehan said.
"I thank Rep. Meehan for his leadership and work on this effort, and I look forward to continuing to work with him to ensure Chester County's veterans receive the care they need and deserve," said Lopez.