Vet Court Con: The Nation's 1st Conference Dedicated to Veterans Treatment Courts and Justice-Involved Veterans Kicks Off Monday, December 2

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Justice For Vets is honored to announce Vet Court Con, the first national conference on veterans involved in the criminal justice system as a result of substance abuse and mental health problems will kick off on Monday, December 2, 2013 in Washington, DC. The event will bring together Veterans Treatment Courts from coast to coast, over 1,000 attendees are expected. This is an opportunity to learn first-hand how Veterans Treatment Courts help save the lives of soldiers who are struggling here on the homefront. The historic event opens Monday, December 2, 8am, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, 2660 Woodley Road, NW, Washington, DC.

Veterans Treatment Courts are changing the way the criminal justice system and the VA respond when veterans are arrested for crimes stemming from mental illness, trauma, and/or substance abuse. Veterans Treatment Courts, modeled after Drug Courts, are the fastest growing treatment court model in the United States.

"Veterans Treatment Courts are having a profound impact on veterans and their families, there is no better way for me to be of service to veterans than by devoting myself to the expansion of these life-saving programs," said Melissa Fitzgerald, new Senior Director of Justice For Vets. "Vet Court Con will mark the largest gathering of Veterans Treatment Courts ever assembled."

Opening Ceremony, Monday, December 2, 8-10am, Marriot Wardman Park. Media availability immediately following Opening Ceremony.

  • Secretary Eric Shinseki, Secretary of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Four-Star Gen. Barry McCaffrey (ret), former U.S. Drug Czar and Chairman of the Veterans Treatment Court Committee of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP)
  • Melissa Fitzgerald, Senior Director of Justice For Vets, a division of NADCP
  • Eric Gonzales, Veterans Treatment Court graduate and combat veteran
  • Judge Robert Russell, founder of the nation's first Veterans Treatment Court in Buffalo, NY
  • West Huddleston, CEO of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, Director of Justice For Vets
  • Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH)
  • Col. David Sutherland Co-Founder and Chairman of Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Community Services

Closing Ceremony, Wednesday December 4, 8-10am, Marriot Wardman Park. Media availability immediately following Closing Ceremony.

  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey
  • Congresswoman Tulsa Gabbard (D-HI)
  • Melissa Fitzgerald, Senior Director of Justice for Vets, a division of NADCP
  • Nick Stefanovic, Veterans Treatment Court Graduate


  • There are 130 Veterans Treatment Courts in the nation and hundreds more planned.
  • 1 in 5 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffers from PTSD or mental health condition
  • 1 in 6 returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffers from a substance abuse disorder
  • Since 2004, the number of veterans being treated for mental illness and substance abuse has increased 38%
  • Over 700,000 veterans are in the corrections system
  • 81% of veterans arrested had a substance abuse problem when arrested
  • There were 120,000 homeless veterans at some point last year
  • 76% of homeless veterans have a substance abuse or mental health disorder

For more information on Vet Court Con, please visit our website Justice For Vets. To RSVP and schedule an interview please contact Rhonda Pence at rpence@nadcp.org.

A photo accompanying this release is available at: http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=22463

CONTACT: Rhonda Pence Public Relations Manager 703.862.1894 (Cell) rpence@nadcp.org

Source:Association of Drug Court Professionals