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Rock County will have state's first special court for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder

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Rock County will have state's first special court for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

In about two months, Rock County will become the first in Wisconsin to have a special court for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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And the state public defender's office says at least three other counties are considering the same thing.

Typically, a veterans' treatment court reviews the health status of vets facing criminal charges and guides them to treatment for their combat-related disorders.

The defendants must meet with judges on a regular basis to go over their progress.

La Crosse County is among those looking into a veterans' treatment court.

A 20-member commission is studying it. La Crosse County Circuit Judge Todd Bjerke is an Army Reserve judge advocate and a staff judge advocate at nearby Fort McCoy.

He says veterans serve on behalf of all Americans and we should not hold it against them if they come back mentally-damaged, or unable to stay sober.

Bjerke says veterans who get in trouble should get extra assistance for what they've done to keep the rest of us free.

Attorney and soldier Mark Huesmann says we're seeing a large increase in post-traumatic stress disorder due to the multiple deployments of troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Erie County in New York started the nation's first veterans' treatment court 16 months ago. Officials say it's had 132 veterans, and none have re-offended.

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