Meehan Bill Helps Vets Overcome Addiction, PTSD

Press Release

Date: Jan. 28, 2015
Location: Washington, DC

Congressman Patrick Meehan (PA-07) today introduced the Servicemember Assistance for Lawful Understanding, Treatment and Education (SALUTE) Act. The legislation provides yearly federal funding for veterans' treatment courts. Veterans' treatment courts help veterans coping with addiction and other mental disorders receive specialized care when accused of certain non-violent crimes.

"One in five veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will experience a stress-related mental illness, and many others will fall victim to drug and alcohol abuse," said Congressman Meehan. "We owe it to these veterans to ensure they get the care and treatment they earned for serving our nation. And we can help non-violent offenders struggling with addiction or other crises avoid becoming entrapped in the criminal justice system, keeping them from getting the care they need."

"More than 200 of these courts have been set up across the nation, and we're already seeing remarkable success and lower recidivism rates," Meehan said. "We've had success in securing federal funding for vets' courts in recent years, through appropriations. But these programs still need formal authorization to create a permanent funding stream. The SALUTE Act gives the Justice Department important guidance on veterans' treatment courts funding and will help make sure these programs are being implemented effectively."

Meehan's legislation was co-sponsored today by a bipartisan group of seven additional lawmakers. He was joined by Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8), Ryan Costello (PA-6), Chaka Fattah (PA-2), Larry Buschon (IN-08), John Carney (DE-AL), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Barbara Comstock (VA-10) & Grace Napolitano (CA-32).

"Our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line each and every day so we can stay safe," said Congresswoman Barbara Comstock. "It is incumbent on the nation to support those who sacrificed for us and that is what the SALUTE Act is all about. Veterans' Treatment Courts will help veterans who have faced challenges get back on their feet so they can thrive in society."

Today, active veterans' courts operate in 19 Pennsylvania counties -- the largest number in the country -- including Chester, Montgomery, Delaware, Berks and Lancaster Counties.

Meehan has long been an advocate for veterans' courts, and led the effort to secure groundbreaking federal funding for the courts in 2012. In mid-2013, Meehan welcomed officials from the Chester County Veterans' Courts program to testify on Capitol Hill before the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science on the effectiveness of the vets' courts program.