(Austin, TX) Groundbreaking Study Reveals 93% of Veterans Charged With Crimes Do No Re-Offend If Given Adequate Mental Health Treatment
Austin, TX – Of the 1.7 million veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, 300,000 (20 percent) suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression (RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research, Invisible Wounds of War, 2008). Austin Texas based Mainstream Mental Health teamed up with Hays County VTC and researchers from Texas State University (San Marcos, TX) and have completed a study of how mental health treatments (through Veterans Treatment Court) can affect US Soldiers who’ve been in trouble with the law.
• Out of 31 veterans interviewed, the majority of them were diagnosed with PTSD (46.2%) and a substance use disorder (41%). Regarding offenses that the veterans were charged with, the majority were charged with DWI (62.9%), then assault (11.4%), and a tie between theft (5.7%) and vehicular crime (5.7%).
• As for medication, 6 out of 31 were on medication for their respective diagnosis. When asked about program participation, most veterans participated in individual therapy (46.7%) and group therapy (45%). For instance, these therapy programs included women’s group therapy and alcohol awareness group therapy.
• After making calls to those who graduated from the VTC program, we found that 92.9% did not re-offend. In other words less than 10% were rearrested and brought before the courts after participating on the VTC.
To give this some perspective the 2005 data on crime statistics shows that up to 68% of general criminals were rearrested within 3 years of their original offense and 77% within 5 years. This is was very telling of the effectiveness of the program in reducing recidivism rates and shows that the VTC is a quality alternative to the traditional court system. After conducting a content analysis, the following themes emerged: being a part of a team kept veterans optimistic and motivated, veterans felt that they were treated fairly by the judge, and the VTC program helped provide them with the necessary tools to live a law-abiding and productive lifestyle.
“When looking at the veterans’ responses, we concluded that the veterans valued the importance of the support system between the court staff and the veteran community. We found that the veterans felt respected by the court staff and appreciated their commitment. We concluded that the commonalities of serving in the military and being a part of the VTC forms a bond between veterans and motivates them to promote each other’s success.” Said Dr. John Huber of Mainstream Mental Health.
We acknowledge that the Hays County Veterans Treatment Court is a young program. We would like to see it progress in hopes of helping more veterans and to begin a mental health court locally. As of now, we have laid the foundation to get started and we plan on continuing our research until we can attain our end goal. Our findings suggest that participation in the VTC program produces convincing results regarding recidivism rates, improvements in recovery, and positive feedback about the veteran support system. We hope that our research serves as a stepping stone to an increase in the number of Veterans Treatment Courts and specialty treatment courts across the nation.
Researchers for this study included: Dr. John Huber, Ruby Oliva, Dalton Klare, Adrianna Ghunaim, O’dalis Covarrubias, Briauna Wilson, Skyler Guzman, Judge David Glickler
The VTC Mission and Procedure
The VTC’s mission is to provide resources to rehabilitate veterans who have committed criminal offenses by diverting them from the traditional criminal system and providing them with the tools they need to lead a productive and law-abiding lifestyle. These tools include individual treatment, rehabilitative programming, positive reinforcement, and judicial monitoring.
About Dr. John Huber
Texas Based – Dr. John Huber (www.mainstreammentalhealth.org) is the Chairman for Mainstream Mental Health, a non-profit organization that brings lasting and positive change to the lives of individuals that suffer from mental health issues. A mental health professional for over twenty years, Dr. Huber is a Clinical Forensic Psychologist, and he is a practitioner with privileges at two long term acute care hospitals. In addition, Dr. John Huber is a professor and teaches undergraduate and graduate psychology at Texas State University.
What is Mainstream Mental Health?
As a non-profit organization, Mainstream Mental Health’s goal is to foster a commitment to young people and veterans that will promote a pro-social attitude towards mental health resources, thus creating a pathway for mental health services, while providing a sense of hope for the future.