Santa Cruz County in California has set up a new program called <a href=”http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/general-news/20150316/volunteers-to-help-troubled-veterans-improve-their-lives-in-santa-cruz-county”>Veterans Treatment Court</a> to help veterans accused of nonviolent crimes. Similar programs have already been started on the East Coast and in other counties in California. The wisdom of the program is that it partners-up accused veterans with volunteers who are themselves veterans (and, accordingly, are both savvy with the court processes and other services and credible to the accused veterans).
One of the reasons that military veterans don’t get more help is that they get forgotten. Many of them were low-profile before they entered military service, and even lower-profile after they came home, often with physical injuries or mental trauma. Not surprisingly, the ones with the worst problems are often homeless or otherwise at-risk. And unfortunately, these homeless and at-risk ones get little or no publicity about their plight. Fortunately, Bob Sitzwohl, a volunteer at the Midpen Media Center, has done something to publicize it, by creating a video called “East Bay Stand Down: Forgotten Faces” that is now live on YouTube and playing on PEG channels 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30. And he knows whereof he speaks, as he himself was homeless when he left the Navy in the mid-to-late 1970’s.
(According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Stand Downs are just one part of the efforts to provide services to homeless Veterans. Stand Downs are typically one to three day events providing services to homeless Veterans such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, VA and Social Security benefits counseling, and referrals to a variety of other necessary services, such as health care, housing, employment, and substance use treatment. Stand Downs are collaborative events, coordinated between local VAs, other government agencies, and community agencies serving the homeless.)