EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

July 11, 2014

New Hampshire opens first criminal court for veterans

NASHUA (AP) — Gov. Maggie Hassan and top judicial and military officials gathered yesterday to dedicate the state’s first court designed to handle the criminal cases of military veterans whose crimes were driven by substance abuse, trauma and anger management issues that stem from their service.

“This collaborative effort exemplifies the all-hands-on-deck spirit of our people,” Hassan said.

The court will focus on intensive treatment to help stem the tide of recidivism and get veterans back on track.

Chief Justice Linda Dalianis said the court is a tribute to the valor and sacrifice of New Hampshire’s veterans.

“Let it be a means for troubles to turn into triumphs,” she told a packed courtroom.

Major General William Reddel, adjutant general of the New Hampshire National Guard, said the court is not about providing a get-out-of-jail-free card. He said it’s about fixing the problems behind the crimes.

“From a vision 18 months ago to now, I can’t thank you enough, because this is huge,” Reddel said. He credited Jo Moncher, bureau chief of the state health department’s community-based military programs, for making the court a reality.

Judge James Leary, who will preside over the court, said it will also reach out to the families of veterans “who are also seriously and significantly affected.”

Diane Levesque, who runs the Veterans Justice Outreach program at the VA Medical Center in Manchester, said veterans involved in the criminal court system deserve the services of a docket dedicated to their needs. She will be the liaison between the court and service providers.

“We have veterans returning from deployments where they have suffered not only physical injury, but psychological and moral injury,” Levesque said. “They get into a crisis due to having so much trouble readjusting upon their return.”

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