Lakewood Municipal Court is home to Veterans Treatment Court – The Suburban Times

Submitted by Judge Lisa H. Mansfield.

Since 2016, Lakewood Municipal Court has proudly hosted the Veterans Treatment Court.

Built from a grant funded by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) and JusticeForVets.org, the Veterans Treatment Court, also known as “Vet Court,” is a therapeutic court that serves veterans involved in the Lakewood community.

Part of what makes Vet Court so special is that it provides individualized attention to each participating veterinarian along with targeted support and case management. Vet Court is linked to the VA and can help vets navigate the system to seek the best care. Because Vet Court takes a team approach to providing personalized service and supporting each veterinarian, court proceedings are collaborative and non-adversarial in nature.

The Vet Court Team is a group of court professionals dedicated to uplifting our veterinarians to safely reintegrate into the community and become productive citizens who are far less likely to re-enter the court system. Our team consists of the Lakewood Municipal Court judge, the prosecutor, a defense attorney, the court administrator, a veterinary court coordinator who also serves as probation, a representative of the veterans administration and, of course, the vets themselves.

Pierce County Veterans Assistance Program veterans officer Larry Turk standing next to the Mobile Veterans Resource Center outside Lakewood City Court.
Brink & Sadler

Vet Court has amazing community partnerships! A group of volunteer mentors who are also veterans work with our team vets to provide additional peer support. Vet Court also works with community organizations such as American Lake Golf Course to provide volunteer opportunities for our veterinarians. Once a month, a mobile unit equipped to specifically meet the needs of veterans parks outside the Lakewood Municipal Yard. This office on wheels, staffed by Pierce County Veterans Assistance Program Veterans Officer Larry Turk, offers veterinarian assistance such as referrals for housing, addiction education, and treatment and many other supports that veterinary court members as well as any other veterinarian can take advantage of.

A great way to find out more about Vet Court is to hear from the Vet Court team. Court Administrator Deana Wright says:

“The connection to our veterans is real, the care for them is deep and I am so proud of our veterans and the treatment court we have created over the years! The stakeholders who invest their time, commitment and resources with our Veterans are amazing. I think all of us involved with the Veterans Treatment Court have been touched emotionally in ways we never imagined. I hope the Veterans Board will continue to grow so that we can help our future veterans get the help they so deserve.

Pierce College

Veterinary court prosecutor Samantha Johnson said:

“As a prosecutor, I am often unable to find out more about the person I have accused of a crime. I don’t know their life story, their daily struggles or their aspirations. The Veterans Affairs Board changed all that. The team talks about the lives of veterinarians and accompanies them in their recovery. Vet Court transforms lives. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of. »

Dina Louden (left) of Quilts of Valor honors Veterinary Court graduate Jeffrey Haas for his service, and Judge Lisa H. Mansfield at Lakewood Municipal Court.

Perhaps the best way to understand the positive impact of Vet Court is to hear from a participant. Recent Vet Court graduate Jeffrey Haas writes:

“While I was a member of the City of Lakewood Vet Court, I found a backbone, a family. Not just with their support but DIRECTLY because of the Vet Court, I finally have VA Disability Award for battle injuries and PTSD I didn’t want to leave after I graduated I go back every month and I still talk to my mentor and probation every week I still call my weekly treatment groups because I have made so many good friends, real friends in my treatment circle that saying goodbye is just not something I will be doing anytime soon.

Anne Frank's Diary at Lakewood Playhouse


“I have a support channel and I have several people I can call at any time of the day. I was about halfway through Vet Court when I realized it was no longer an audience date, and it became the place I went to when I needed to reach out to people I could talk candidly with and felt immediately connected to. Short, I got my life back.

The Lakewood Municipal Court Veterinary Tribunal is open to the public and meets the second Wednesday of each month at 2:00 p.m. Often the Vet Court team shares light refreshments with vets after court. Please join us for the next Veterinary Court on April 13, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. at Lakewood City Court, located at 6000 Main Street SW, Lakewood, WA 98499. For more information, see the City of Lakewood website [email protected] us.

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About Antoine L. Cassell

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