Some of my clients take drugs or drink alcohol for reasons other than recreation. It is sometimes a sad fact of heroism in the military that our heroes suffer not only physical injuries but also mental injuries. These injuries may include traumatic brain injury as well a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People with these problems attempt to treat their anxieties and fears with intoxicating substances – substances that may even have been prescribed for them by their doctors. Eventually, they become involved in the criminal justice system.
Along with other jurisdictions, our legislature in Texas has recognized this problem, and Texas has created the Veterans Treatment Court. Veterans who have eligibility under the Veterans Administration and who may have disability ratings granted by the Administration are the subjects of this treatment program.
What happens to these veterans is that the program allows them to be transferred out of the criminal court system into a treatment program. This transfer gives them the opportunity to have the criminal charges dismissed when they successfully complete the treatment program. Recently, Bexar County’s program graduated its 500th veteran from that program who just happened to be my client. The success was his own, and I am happy and proud that he was able to qualify for and complete the program.
Unfortunately, PTSD is suffered not only by war veterans. Many people who have experienced sexual and physical abuse as children have this disorder as well. It may be difficult to recognize at first, but with some conversation and counseling my clients have been able to accept the fact that their addiction is related to their experiences as children. With psychiatric intervention and counseling the source of their problems can be diagnosed and treated. Recognizing this fact, prosecutors are often more likely to be lenient in plea bargains or even dismissing cases. Often times the facts surrounding the arrest lead me to believe that there is something at work other than bad luck.
It is important that someone accused of DWI should be honest with themselves as well as with their lawyers in order to address the cause of their problems.