Veterans' Court Heads to Sussex County - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Veterans' Court Heads to Sussex County

 GEORGETOWN, Del. - A veterans' court will start seeing cases at the end of October in Sussex County. It is a unique program to help veterans rehabilitate after committing minor crimes often involving drugs.

According to Judge Richard Stokes, the judge who will be presiding over these cases, the program is designed with the acknowledgement that veterans often have severe stressors such as PTSD.

"It's a good day when we have someone who is not a violent person and can be rehabilitated and go back and be a good citizen," he said. Stokes himself has a background in the air force.

Sergeant Stefan Wall, a Sussex County veteran, was injured while on tour in Afghanistan. He said he thinks a separate court system for veterans is a positive step towards rehabilitation for those like him.

"We do have different stressors that the average American doesn't necessarily deal with," he explained. "Like PTSD like i have, its a different kind of stressor and it can affect your life differently than normal every day to day things could do, so we have medication issues and things like that."

Instead of immediate sentencing, veterans will entire rehab programs through the VA and be monitored by the court.

The number of veterans' courts in the country went from just one in 2008 to nearly 190 today. While there are many advocates of the system there are still some critics who say that criminals shouldn't be treated any differently just because of their military service. But Judge Stokes notes the vets in the program are approved by the Attorney General's office and screened by probation officers.

"It's the kind of situation where they have reason to believe they can be successful in the program and that the kinds of problems that they had are not the most severe," he said.

Violent crimes would not be tried in the Veterans' Court, this is for minor crimes.

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