Our Opinion: A persuasive argument for veterans courts

News Tribune editorial

A persuasive argument in favor of veterans’ courts was advanced in a story published Saturday.

In a story by News Tribune contributor Jeremy P. Amick, an assistant prosecutor and military officer pointed out the potential difficulty of transitioning from military to civilian life.

According to a quote from Bill Harding, a Pulaski County assistant prosecutor and a combat engineer officer with Missouri National Guard, “veterans are trained their entire military careers to do things as part of a team. When they return from deployment, they often become isolated from that team.”

His observation is instructive.

Military service involves more than teamwork; it involves discipline and an established chain of command.

Civilian life can be the antithesis, particularly if the veteran has no spouse, family or employment after leaving the military.

For them, a life of order can become chaos, and consequences may include alcoholism, drug addiction, and antisocial and criminal behavior.

Specialty courts already established to deal with addiction and DWI offenses have proven their merit.

Legislation to extend specialty courts to veterans was sponsored this year by Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City.

Although it was approved overwhelmingly by a 149-1 vote in the House, it languished and ultimately died in a Senate committee.

Barnes said he intends to pursue the legislation next year. We encourage him to do so.

Our military veterans deserve an opportunity and assistance to get their lives on track.

In Harding’s words: “If they are hurting, it is important that we are able to come together as a community and provide them with a team of resources to get them back on the path to recovery.”

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