WA Program Helps Vets with Trauma, Combat Histories Overcome Criminal Backgrounds

Soldier in uniform and helmet looks at skyGoodwill’s services for veterans and military families include job training and employment placement services to help them reintegrate into civilian society. But our support doesn’t stop there. Many of our 164 Goodwill® agencies in the U.S. and Canada provide support services to help these individuals overcome a variety of challenges and circumstances.

In Spokane, WA, Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest works in conjunction with the Spokane County Veterans Enhanced Treatment Court to run the Spokane Veterans Forum (SVF). The  program is the therapeutic side to the court and offers veterans that have become involved with the legal system an alternative to traditional sentencing.

With support from community volunteers, SVF provides mentoring, educational, therapeutic and life-enhancing services to military veterans referred from any County Veterans Enhanced Therapeutic Court (VET Court). VET Court is a therapeutic court program designed to provide a non-adversarial resolution process for veterans who have committed misdemeanor offenses and are either diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) , Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and/or were combat veterans. PTS and TBI are common injuries sustained by Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom returnees (OIF/OEF), as well as those from prior conflicts.

SVF assembles and focuses services in support of the veterans during their court-ordered resolution process. Referred veterans are matched with a mentor, also a veteran, who provides them support as they participate in the community program. To have a strong, immediate and lasting effect for all veterans, it is important that they be in the company of other veterans as early and as often as possible.

The program also trains the volunteer veteran mentors and reports regularly to the VET Court probation officers regarding individual progress and compliance for the court ordered treatment reviews. Veterans are required to be in contact with their mentors on a weekly basis at a minimum and to attend the formal SVF meetings held monthly where they will share a meal together. Probation officers attend the forums to personally interact with the mentor and veteran participants.

Through successful participation in the SVF program and their individual respective treatment services, nearly all participating defendant veterans have had their offense dismissed or substantially reduced — all done with other veterans at their side.