The Kings County District Attorney’s office has signed onto a special program to help veterans who left a war zone only to find themselves in a new crisis.
Under the new Veterans Project, soldiers who become victims of crime can receive special services in Brooklyn, as well as Queens and Nassau County, where district attorneys were also recruited.
At the same time, veterans who commit non-violent crimes can receive outreach, specialized support services and treatment that will divert them from incarceration.
They will also be able to receive peer support to help them through the process and share legal, clinical and community resources, organizers said.
Under the new plan, defendants with prior military service would be identified as soon as they are arrested. If they are willing to receive the help, they would receive support for the case as well as other “underlying issues” that returning veterans face, including post traumatic stress disorder, trauma and other combat-related physical and mental injuries.
Furthermore, veterans will receive assistance in combatting homelessness, drug addiction, domestic violence and other anger issues, Hynes said, claiming that the initiative will “give all of us a safer place to life.”
“We have learned from the past that veterans may need enhanced services should they become involved in the criminal justice system as victims and as defendants, especially when they are coming home from war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan,” he explained.
“Our veterans risk extraordinary sacrifice in our defense,” said New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, who spearheaded the initiative with Hynes, Queens DA Richard Brown and Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice. “Though we can never fully repay the debt we owe them, this program is unquestionably a step in the right direction.”
“The Veterans Project launches at a crucial time when thousands of New Yorkers are currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and an even greater number have returned home,” he said. “With this important undertaking, we honor the service of these brave men and women by working cooperatively to identify and meet their greatest and most pressing needs.”
To learn more about the Veterans Project, contact the Kings County District Attorney’s office at (718) 250-2000.
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