Budget amendment would create Veterans and Behavioral Health Court Docket Program in Chesapeake

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Chesapeake, Va. (WTKR) - An amendment under consideration by the Virginia General Assembly could provide funding for a pilot program for a special court docket for veterans and others with behavioral health issues.

According to the Commonwealth of Virginia Compensation Board 2014 Annual Report, Chesapeake has one of the highest incarceration rates of mentally ill offenders, including many veterans.

Research posted by the City of Chesapeake shows that 10% to 18% of veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom are likely to have PTSD upon return.

According to the proposal, when an individual with behavioral health issues ends up in the criminal justice system, the program will provide a team to evaluate the case.

It will also identify resources needed to provide stability and avoid future interactions with the justice system.

"We want to be able to identify folks early on in the criminal justice system when they are being charged to give them an alternative to work on issues so we don’t have to keep them incarcerated," Chesapeake Integrated Behavioral Healthcare Executive Director Joe Scislowicz told NewsChannel 3's Todd Corillo Wednesday.

According to Chesapeake, participation in the program will be completely voluntary.

Chesapeake is asking folks to show support by contacting Governor McAuliffe and members of the General Assembly.

You can read the full Amendments here: Senate and House.