March 26, 2011

Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey (ret.), Former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Arlington, Va.

Veterans should commend the Military Times newspapers for the thoughtful and timely coverage of the development of veterans treatment courts [“Finding a new normal,” Feb. 21]. It is important for the American people to understand that the U.S. military instills a sense of discipline, duty and respect that is evident in millions of veterans who return home strengthened by their combat experience.

However, we must not forget that some veterans struggle upon their return. Some with drug or alcohol abuse will end up in the criminal justice system. Veterans treatment courts are ensuring that we leave no veteran behind.

Veterans treatment courts are able to expedite access to treatment and benefits earned in military service through coordinated efforts with the Veterans Affairs Department, state departments of the VA, Veterans Benefits Administration and veterans service organizations.

It has been one of the great honors of my career to work alongside the National Association of Drug Court Professionals in establishing veterans treatment courts. We must now look ahead to ensure that every justice-involved veteran with a diagnosed drug or alcohol abuse problem or mental health issue has the opportunity, not for jail — but for treatment and restoration in a veterans treatment court. All veterans should be treated with the honor and dignity they deserve.

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