Military veterans are an at-risk group of people because of the unique stresses they’ve faced. Sometimes, the result is they are slamming face-first into the justice system. When that happens, who is there to stand up for them?
For the past two years, the Spokane Veterans Forum (spokaneveteransforum.org) has been there. The Forum is an organization made up primarily of veterans and Gold Star parents. All are volunteers, and they come from all walks of life to provide a helping hand that can save lives, reunite families and restore communities.
We work with judges, prosecutors, probation officers and others to coordinate our respective Veterans Courts and better help defendants who are military veterans, primarily combat veterans suffering with post-traumatic stress syndrome, traumatic brain injuries and/or victims of military sexual assault.
The mentors in the Forum seek no spotlight. They want only to help their fellow veterans. We all know: there but for the grace of God. And, it’s perhaps by that same grace that many of our local veteran residents get this second chance.
Results show that the mentors are extremely successful. In fact, the Spokane Veterans Forum is cited nationally as the model for other cities to follow.