OWI and Veterans Treatment Court in Wisconsin

60 Minutes recently ran a segment on “Invisible wounds of war”

English: Cases of PTSD and Severe Depression A...

English: Cases of PTSD and Severe Depression Among U.S. Veterans Deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan Between Oct 2001 and Oct 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

that dealt with the traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and very real post-traumatic stress our veterans suffer as a result of combat. In Wisconsin, this issue needs to be brought to the forefront with courts considering Veteran’s Treatment Court for veterans who are charged with OWI and have mental health issues related to Post Traumatic Street Disorder (PTSD).

Unfortunately, many courts and prosecutors are not aware of the very real difficulties that occur with PTSD. Prosecutors seem unwilling in many situations to recommend Veteran’s Treatment Court inasmuch as their belief is that it somehow mitigates potential punishment. Veteran’s Treatment Court is an option in multiple OWI situations.  Veterans who have received a civil or criminal operating while under the influence of intoxicant charge and who have been diagnosed with PTSD, in many cases have significant issues relating to alcohol that should be addressed in a setting other than confinement.

Too often, prosecutors seem to make simple guideline recommendations.  Their actions seem to suggest that every case should fall into some neatly wrapped punishment package. I feel it is important to begin the process of educating courts and prosecutors regarding the Veteran’s Treatment Court options that are available in Wisconsin. In addition, as defense attorneys, we need to begin the process of educating prosecutors and courts alike on the symptoms and diagnoses of PTSD and other brain injury disorders related to military service. Hopefully, with a little education, the courts and prosecutors will start to see that Veterans Treatment Court is a viable option to help our veterans gain the necessary treatment to help them to live alcohol free in society.

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