Establish veterans’ court
More than 5,200 veterans of military service live in Belmont County, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Some of them have had — and will have — brushes with the law.
A substantial number of them might not have gotten into trouble but for the physical and mental stresses of their service.
That factor in dealing with veterans who break the law has been recognized nationwide. So has an obligation to provide special services for veterans who, with them, might be able to get back on the straight and narrow.
Ohio has 22 special veterans’ treatment courts where such assistance can be provided. Most are in urban areas; the nearest to our portion of Eastern Ohio are in Athens and Youngstown.
For some time, Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato has been interested in setting up a veterans’ treatment court. He met recently with state Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy and other Buckeye State judges to discuss such action.
Fregiato plans to meet with the county Veterans Service Commission to discuss details of the plan, including options for how veterans in the court could be mentored.
As Fregiato has explained, veterans would be able to get into the program only after they have been convicted of crimes. There, they would have certain obligations to meet in exchange for getting help.
Veterans “would not receive any higher consideration than a non-veteran,” Fregiato emphasizes.
Establishing a local court would cost taxpayers nothing. Fregiato has said he would take the project on in addition to his many other duties.
It ought to be done, and the sooner, the better.
Veterans helped keep us secure from the many enemies our nation has in this world.
Many made great sacrifices, including physical and emotional wounds that may not be apparent.
Surely they deserve some consideration from us, when they run afoul of the law.