Process Evaluation of Buffalo Veterans Treatment Court

The Buffalo Veterans Treatment Court, the first such court in the nation, opened in January, 2008.

Grantee Name

New York State Unified Court System

Funding Area

Veterans’ Health

Publication Date

November 2011

Grant Amount


Grant Date:

October 1, 2009 – December 31, 2009

Veterans’ Health

The Buffalo Veterans Treatment Court, the first such court in the nation, opened in January, 2008.

As a hybrid of drug treatment and mental health court models, the Veterans Treatment Court’s mission is to address the mental health and addiction issues that often stem from the trauma of active combat and that can lead to criminal activity. The Veterans Treatment Court diverts eligible offenders from traditional criminal court case processing and provides the necessary tools to lead productive, law-abiding lives. Veterans charged with non-violent felonies or misdemeanors receive substance abuse treatment, counseling for mental health issues (such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and traumatic brain injury), mentoring from positive veteran role models, and educational and employment services, all under supervision of the court.

As of July 2010, approximately 162 veterans had participated in the Veterans Treatment Court and none had been reincarcerated or had other involvement with the criminal justice system. Other courts in New York have expressed interest in establishing veteran’s treatment courts, and more than 20 courts across the country have visited the Buffalo court.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Collaborated with staff at NDRI and Recovery Solutions who conducted and recorded 21 group or individual interviews with 287 program participants, Veterans Treatment Court staff, treatment providers and others with experience interacting with veterans.
  • Convened one focus group of veteran mentors who worked with the Veterans Treatment Court.
  • Identified 10 key components of the Veterans Treatment Court, which paralleled the components of drug courts.
  • Proposed a two-day training curriculum organized around issues faced by veteran populations such as Military Culture, Mental Health, Substance Use, etc.