For warriors, coming home - restoring soul, mind, and body - takes time and is not always smooth.
Brigadier General (Ret.) Stephen N. Xenakis, M.D.
Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) April 05, 2012
The National Veterans Foundation is getting ready to release the Attorney's Guide to Defending Veterans in Criminal Court. This 700+ page publication will contain the contributions of leading experts from the fields of law, medicine and mental health and address issues surrounding PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), TBI (traumatic brain injury), substance abuse, and other combat-related issues. The current release is planned for late May.
As the New York Times has reported: There are about 70,000 veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Across the U.S., many are struggling with the transition back to civilian life as Vietnam veterans did (nearly a half-century ago), and some are at risk of ending up in the criminal justice system. The criminal court system is not prepared for the potential tsunami that could hit this country, when PTSD and TBI-related events occur among these returning veterans.
In an effort to provide much-needed information and direction for attorneys who defend these veterans, the National Veterans Foundation (NVF) has funded a nearly three-year project to bring together outstanding experts, who were willing to give of their time and talent, without compensation, to create a tool that can provide guidance for attorneys. From the moment a lawyer meets a new client to preparing the defense and to dealing with the sentencing phase, this Guide will offer the very first of its kind publication.
From identifying the potential root causes for criminal behavior to preparing the veteran for facing the challenges of the courtroom, the table of contents of the Guide is replete with material that can be utilized by the most experienced courtroom attorney to the novice. Attorneys for the prosecution will find the publication and invaluable guide in understanding the critical nature of their role, as will judges and expert witnesses.
One important point that must be understood is that the NVF intends this publication to truly serve the better good -- for all concerned. The Guide is not intended to be a "get out of jail free" card. Should the evidence clearly indicate that the crime requires punishment, the Guide works attorneys through the steps involved in the "sentencing phase" of the trial. And whatever the level of incarceration that might be handed down as part of the sentencing, the Guide provides insight into working for the ultimate goal of the publication -- treatment. Without treatment, the issues the veteran is dealing with will continue. Treatment is the ultimate goal of the Attorney's Guide to Defending Veterans in Criminal Court.
The men and women who have defended this country, under the worst of conditions, in the harshest of environments, deserve the best defense possible, when the invisible injuries they brought home with them, are possible sources for their actions.
Since 2002, over 2 million men and women have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Approximately one-third of military personnel have served more than one tour in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nearly 20,000 members of the U.S. Army have been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq some five or more times. The military has kept 70,000 service personnel beyond their scheduled discharge date. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs predicts that between 30-40 percent of Iraq veterans will eventually experience PTSD (not including possible TBI or other combat-related issues that go undetected).
Since the recent deaths of 17 civilians in Afghanistan, the issues of PTSD and/or TBI have once again become front page topics. Former Naval officer and president of the National Veterans Foundation, Floyd 'Shad' Meshad, and co-editor Brock Hunter (a veteran and Minneapolis-based defense attorney), along with many of the author/contributors of the Attorney's Guide to Defending Veterans in Criminal Court, stand ready to conduct interviews on the substance of the publication. Please use the contact information to arrange an interview.