Hamilton County Judges Bring Resources to Veterans With PTSD Who Face Sentencing

HAMILTON COUNTY (WDEF) – “It’s okay to fail. And when you fail, that’s your opportunity to stand up again,” says Scott Mincey who runs a nonprofit called Combat Paddlers. It helps veterans with PTSD find solace in nature. He understands PTSD and the issues those with combat trauma struggle with.

“A lot of it is anger, drugs, alcoholism, divorces, family issues,” Mincey says.

In other words, unresolved PTSD can often lead to substance abuse and other criminal behavior. Two Hamilton County judges say a fourth of the veterans who are arrested have been in combat. Instead of simply locking them up, they say it’s very important to understand if a defendant has PTSD when evaluating their crime.

“It’s something that they’re dealing with that they had virtually no control over based on what they had experienced while they were serving their country,” says Hamilton County General Sessions and Mental Health Court Judge Lila Statom.

Judge Statom and Judge Alex McVeagh are working to bring veteran treatment programs alongside their mental health and drug recovery programs.

“A lot of the veterans suffer from mental health issues such as PTSD emotional and other anger issues,” says Judge McVeagh, a Hamilton County General Sessions and Drug Recovery Court Judge.

“What we try to do in general sessions court is in addition to obviously prosecuting their case and sentencing them in this court is to link them with all the available resources in the community.”

Counseling and drug treatment are some of the services offered. There is also a mentorship program through the court where veterans are paired with other veterans who become accountability partners.

“They were willing to lay their lives down for our freedoms and they were doing it without being selfish. You don’t think that person deserves a chance? Yeah, they deserve a chance. We are not gonna put these people out to pasture,” says Mincey.

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