Veteran-300x300It’s hard to express enough gratitude for those who put their lives on the line for all of us in defense of freedom. The heart of a veteran reflects the soul and bravery of America.  But along with their great courage on the battlefields of war too often they return home with physical and emotional scars that require healing and help. If you are a veteran, have a loved one or acquaintance who is a veteran who has been charged with a crime in Fairfax County, then you need to know about the new Fairfax County Veterans Treatment Docket.  Earlier this year Fairfax County joined about 220 other jurisdictions across the country in setting up a special docket to solve the issues of offending veterans who have underlying problems related to their military service.

While most veterans are strengthened by their military service, an increasing number of veterans suffer lingering negative effects of their work. We are all aware of the stresses created by combat service that at times reveals itself in life changing problems such as traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual trauma, as well as drug and alcohol abuse. This problem is only growing, with one in five veterans having symptoms of mental health disorder or cognitive impairment.

In recognition that our veterans deserve better treatment for their sacrifices for their country, the Fairfax Veterans Treatment Docket is set up to be a court supervised, full treatment program designed to treat the underlying problems rather than merely punish the illegal act. This kind of court provides better possible care for veterans for several reasons. Offenders will appear before Judges and Court officers that are well-versed in the particular needs of veterans with PTSD and other issues, veterans receive a support structure from the Court and a process that includes fellow veterans, and veterans receive a single setting where they can be enrolled or integrated with the programs, benefits, and services that they have earned from their service.

To qualify, a veteran must meet certain qualifications which include the following:

  • Have a discharge (other than dishonorable) from any branch of the Armed Forces, the Reserves or National Guard.
  • Be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, not including sex offenses, offences involving a weapon in the commission of the offense, violent offenses as described in the Code.
  • A diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or other trauma, mental health issues, substance abuse and or related disorders.
  • Identify treatment options that can be met by the program, and be willing to undergo such treatment.

You can find more information about the Veterans Treatment Docket, and the application materials, by following those links. For many of our combat veterans who have gotten into trouble in part because of the trauma of war, this is a way to deal with the underlying problems and hopefully get the veteran back on a productive course.    At TATE BYWATER we can review the information with the veteran client to see if the veteran qualifies; discuss the case with the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney to see if it is a case that both parties agree qualifies for this program; and take care of other necessary details so that our veteran clients make the most of this special court option. Please contact us to discuss your case with an attorney.


Bywater_506x400Doug Bywater is a founding member of TATE BYWATER and has more than 40 years of experience practicing law.  He brings a wealth of experience  to represent clients in complex civil cases, domestic relations, and criminal cases.  His reputation inside and outside the courtroom is reflected in an AV Preeminent peer review rating (5.0 out of 5.0 ) from Martindale Hubbell.