SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 46
(By Senators Snyder, D. Facemire and Jenkins)
Urging the creation of a Veteran’s Court to assist veterans who suffered trauma as a result of war in criminal cases of a nonfelony nature.
Whereas, Because of the extraordinary number of Veterans returning from war with post traumatic syndrome disease and the limited medical facilities with expertise to treat them and the courts being overwhelmed, the purpose of this resolution is to respectfully suggest that a Veterans Court be established that can assist in adjudicating those veterans cases of a nonfelony nature assuring that those who suffered trauma as a result of war are given compassionate consideration and treatment where indicated; and
Whereas, Through no fault of their own almost all of our courts in the State of West Virginia have a judge that has not experienced service in the armed forces of the United States and have limited knowledge of how combat in war affects those who experience the horrors of the loss of some of their closest buddies or with the duty of having to kill another human being or the sight of total elimination of human beings, which leaves a lasting impression on their mind thereby resulting in abnormal actions in life following their return to civil life; and
Whereas, These veterans who from childhood were taught that one must not kill, suddenly find themselves in combat where to survive their only option was to kill. Without any time and without any training by the U. S. armed forces prior to their release from active duty to assist them to adjust to civil life, the veteran is suddenly told that their services are no longer needed and that they are to return to civil life and resume the same role they lived prior to entering the armed forces; and
Whereas, For many there are no medical facilities readily available with the professional staff to assist a veteran who is discharged with a condition now known as Post Traumatic Syndrome Disease causing the Veteran to react in civil life contrary to civil law, or to seek a chemical solution, thereby resulting in the veteran having to appear in court for an offense that perhaps was the result of their experience in war; and
Whereas, There is no provision in our courts to evaluate a veteran to determine if their service in combat witnessing the horrors of war, may have caused such violation and with proper evaluation and treatment may receive some leniency from the court. To be eligible for consideration of the Veterans Court, the veteran would have to have served in a foreign combat area as shown on the DD 214 Separation from Active Duty in the Armed Forces, or be on active duty at the time of arrest. The violation of law must be of a nature that is nonpresumptive or nonmandatory and the veteran must be a resident of West Virginia with no criminal record and experiencing a treatable behavioral, mental health or chemical problem. The veteran must voluntarily agree to accept and comply with the Veterans Court and all parties’ decisions in adjudicating the case and there is no right of appeal; therefore, be it
Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Legislature urges the creation of a Veteran’s Court to assist veterans who suffered trauma as a result of war in criminal cases of a nonfelony nature; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the West Virginia Legislature approve the creation of a Veterans Court in Charleston, West Virginia, in coordination with the United States Veterans Affairs medical authorities in West Virginia, on a trial basis for a period of one year to determine the feasibility and effectiveness of a Veterans Court and that the Veterans Court be under a judge who has served in the armed forces and has an understanding of the residuals of war; and, be it
Further Resolved, That a physician with military experience be appointed as a consultant to the Veterans Court to assist in the evaluation and recommended treatment or final decision; and, be it
Further Resolved, That upon completion of the prescribed treatment or probation period that the veteran be furnished a certificate of completion indicating the veteran’s successful compliance with the decision of the Veterans Court.