An Assembly bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Los Angeles) that would create Veterans' Courts throughout California passed the Assembly on Thursday and will head to the state Senate for consideration.
"Our current court and corrections system is not equipped to address the unique needs of veterans struggling because it lacks rehabilitation services and fails to address the underlying issues that specific to the traumas of military service,” Butler said in a statement.
The proposed Veterans' Court would be modeled after the drug courts to assist veterans dealing with addiction, mental health issues and co-occurring disorders. The Veterans' Courts would promote sobriety, recovery and stability and would include collaboration with the Veterans' Administration.
Butler said that California is home to about 9 percent of the nation's veterans and the bill was crafted to "assist our heroes in their hour of need."
There are more than 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and active duty military living in California, Butler said. An estimated 30,000 of these veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or have suffered traumatic brain injury.
Counties would create the Veterans' Courts voluntarily and the bill provides guidelines for implementation.
The bill, AB2611, has been sponsored and supported by veterans' organizations, law enforcement and veterans, Butler said. There are currently eight Veterans' Courts in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Clara, Sonoma, Tulare and Ventura.
“AB 2611 provides that those individuals who have honorably served our country get the assistance they need and deserve," said Butler.
Butler's 53rd Assembly District includes Venice, Marina del Rey, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach. Butler is running for election in the 50th Assembly District, which covers much of the Westside, after her current district was reconfigured in the redistricting process.