Veterans’ Health

Project Title

Strengthening and Increasing Access to Veterans Treatment Courts Statewide

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Veterans’ Health

Date Awarded

June 17, 2024




In Progress


Veterans Treatment Courts (VTCs) were founded in Buffalo, New York, in 2008 as a type of problem-solving court that provides treatment as an alternative to incarceration for eligible veterans with mental health or substance use disorders. VTCs offer a lifeline for veterans encountering the criminal justice system, but access to these courts was not historically universal across New York State. A law enacted in 2021 now authorizes the transfer of cases from jurisdictions without VTCs to adjacent counties that have them, but further work is needed to realize the full potential of the policy change. In 2024, NYHealth awarded the New York State Defenders Association (NYSDA) to work with both existing and new VTC judges and court professionals to facilitate successful case transfers. NYHealth also awarded a complementary grant to the Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic (VLC) at Syracuse University’s College of Law to provide comprehensive legal services to VTC participants in New York State to increase their likelihood of success in treatment.

Under this grant, NYSDA will build on its extensive training network of defense attorneys, judges, and other legal professionals. It will engage six counties with a VTC and multiple contiguous counties without a VTC to facilitate the robust implementation of the transfer policy and overcome barriers. NYSDA will work to ensure smooth and legally sound case transfers, including documentation and reporting in court systems, and help judges, defense attorneys, court staff, and prosecutors who need support prior to, during, and after case transfer proceedings.