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Jan. 26, 2011
Second Ohio Veterans Court Opens in Youngstown

The state’s second veterans court opened its doors today in northeast Ohio with a ceremony featuring Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton as guest speaker.

Presiding Judge Robert P. Milich opened the 2 p.m. session of the Youngstown Veterans Treatment Court, which also included Youngstown native Chrisanne Gordon, M.D., as speaker.

Veterans courts address the needs of those veterans suffering from a traumatic brain injury, posttraumatic stress disorder, or related issue that leads to behavior resulting in criminal charges. The new treatment court, a division of the Youngstown Municipal Court, will assist veterans charged with nonviolent misdemeanor offenses by offering mental health counseling; treatment services for alcohol and substance abuse; vocational skills advancement; and mentoring. The court also will assist with connecting veterans to the many federal resources now available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans charged with felonies that do not result in physical injury to another may also be considered for participation.

“As a 28-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, I am proud and honored to preside over a court uniquely equipped for resolving the problems encountered by our returning combat vets,” Judge Milich said.

“Military service affects everyone differently. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide the treatment, support and services to those who qualify, helping them establish stable, law-abiding and healthy lives … particularly after the sacrifices they’ve made,” he added.

Justice Stratton is a pioneer in Ohio and nationally, having early recognized the need to provide qualifying veterans with diversionary treatment. She is leading the effort in Ohio to prepare courts for the increasing number of veterans expected to enter the criminal justice system as a growing number of U.S. military personnel return from active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“My commitment to our veterans continues to grow. After serving us as they have, we should provide them with every resource we can,” Justice Stratton said. “Veterans’ issues may be unique to them but they are a burden we should all carry.” Justice Stratton was named the 2010 Veteran Advocate of the Year by the Buckeye State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America for her judicial system initiatives on behalf of Ohio veterans.

Gordon, a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation, is collaborating on a documentary about veterans health issues scheduled for release on Veterans Day. The opening of the Youngstown Veterans Treatment Court was filmed for the Nov. 11 release.

The first Ohio veterans court opened in the Mansfield Municipal Court in 2009.

More information on the Youngstown Municipal Court is available at http://www.youngstownmunicipalcourt.org.

Contact: Chris Davey or Regina Koehler at 614.387.9250.