2018-02-21 / Front Page

Reps. Baird, Clere seek to provide treatment to more Hoosier veterans

State Rep. Jim Baird (R-Greencastle) State Rep. Jim Baird (R-Greencastle) The House of Representatives voted in support of a bill authored by State Rep. Jim Baird (R-Greencastle) that would help more Hoosier veterans involved in the justice system get help with mental health treatment and support.

Under the legislation, which is co-authored by State Rep. Ed Clere (R-New Albany), the Indiana Department of Veteran’s Affairs will work with the Division of State Court Administration, the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Guard to ensure veterans who become involved in the justice system are directed to a Veterans Treatment Court.

A Veterans Treatment Court is a specialized court that closely monitors veterans in the court system who might need treatment for alcohol/substance addiction or serious mental health illness. The mission is to successfully rehabilitate veterans involved in the court system using evidence based treatment to positively change their behavior to lead productive, law-abiding civilian lives.

“Veterans Treatment Courts keep those who faced war and violence and are now suffering from mental health issues out of the traditional justice system,” Baird said. “These courts are part of a community’s justice system and often partner with local veterans’ organizations to provide treatment options. There are veterans falling through the cracks, and our proposal would foster collaboration among agencies in order to get veterans the help they need rather than putting them behind bars for nonviolent crimes.”

Clere said it has been an honor to work with Baird, who is a Vietnam veteran.

“Veterans courts save lives, and this legislation will help ensure that more veterans will have access to treatment and other services,” Clere said. “It gives them a chance to find their way back to their family and community.”

Baird and Clere are also asking lawmakers to study whether or not Indiana should implement a program offering property tax deductions to property owners who provide rental housing to veterans.

The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration. To learn more about House Bill 1402 and other bills, visit iga.in.gov.

State Rep. Jim Baird (R-Greencastle) represents House District 44, which includes all of Putnam County and portions of Clay, Morgan, Owen and Parke counties.

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