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City of Kansas City, Mo.

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Veterans’ Treatment Court celebrates success, plans changes for the future

The City of Kansas City, Mo., Veterans’ Treatment Court, a division of the Municipal Court, has seen great success, most recently last month as it honored its fifth graduating class. Of the 22 military veterans who have graduated from the court since its 2009 establishment, only one has incurred a new charge.

“That’s a great result because it means that 21 of 22 people who graduated from the program have gone on to get jobs or housing, and may have gotten their driver’s licenses returned,” said Judge Ardie Bland, who presides over the Veterans’ Treatment Court. “It means that they are focused and staying out of trouble.”

The court looks forward to further improving its program, which provides treatment options as an alternative to incarceration for military veterans who face problems such as depression, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse, homelessness, and unemployment. Beginning this year, the Veterans’ Treatment Court will hold quarterly graduations and begin operating on a phase plan. Each of its three treatment phases will last at least 90 days and diminish in intensity through each phase. The specialized treatment court will also begin scheduling dockets twice a month (the first and third Wednesday afternoons of each month) instead of once per month.

“This makes it possible to increase the intensity of the visits and our supervision of the veterans,” Judge Bland said. “Many of them have needs that require more consistent review of their cases so we can make sure they are adhering to their treatment plans.”

In addition to Judge Bland, the Veterans’ Treatment Court team consists of staff from the City Prosecutor’s Office, Legal Aid, the Municipal Court and the Veterans Administration. The team was one of five nationwide courts selected to attend a week-long training course funded and operated by the Veterans Treatment Court Planning Initiative in California this winter.

Judge Bland notes that the training will create major dividends for the Municipal Court.

“This training will help us to better understand the issues that veterans face and help us develop better treatments and plans for services,” he said.

For additional information, please contact Assistant to the City Manager John Franklin at 816-513-3900.


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