Veterans Court a possibility for Belmont County

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato this week met with Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy and other Ohio Judges regarding setting up a Veterans Treatment Court here in Belmont County.

Ohio has the sixth-largest veterans population in the country, but has only 22 Veterans Treatment Courts despite there being 88 counties. The conducting of this court would be an optional obligation on Fregiato’s part and would be in addition to his normal duties.

He explained it would be cost-free to the taxpayers.

“The veteran would not receive any higher consideration than a non-veteran,” said Fregiato. “He or she would enter the court only after a guilty plea or conviction. The convicted veteran would then have multiple obligations in the veterans court, in addition to his or her normal conviction terms.

“The veterans have a unique shared experience, and the convicted veteran must demonstrate a commitment, a passion and an emotional interest in overcoming his or her military issue, which results in more intensive treatment than mere conviction would,” he said.

It is anticipated that each convicted veteran would have a mentor. Fregiato will be meeting with the Belmont County Veterans Service Commission next week to further explore these issues.