Summit County, Ohio: Summit County Common Pleas Court Administrative Judge Amy Corrigall Jones is pleased to announce Summit County Valor Court, which she also presides over, has been awarded a $1.8 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA). The grant was awarded to provide expanded substance abuse treatment and mental health services to participants of Valor Court over the next five years.
Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro was pleased to hear of the grant award, noting the importance of the role of Valor Court in the community. “Summit County Valor Court is an invaluable resource in our community. I appreciate the Valor Court team’s work that went into securing this grant. Receiving these funds means that even more veterans will be able to be served which, in turn benefits us all,” stated Shapiro.
“We have an incredible collaborative team that includes court and probation staff, VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) and Veterans Service Commission personnel. With this funding, our team will only become stronger with more mentors and the additional services from Oriana House and Summa Health,” Corrigall Jones explained.
Under the grant, Valor Court, established in 2013, will add additional staff and expand the veteran’s mentoring program. It will also fund case management and peer recovery support services provided by Oriana House, Inc. and a Dual Diagnosis (mental health and substance use) Therapy Group provided by the Summa Health Traumatic Stress Center.
“We have been collaborating with Valor Court for several years by providing trauma education groups to help participants better understand and address the role that trauma may be playing in their lives,” said Dr. Patrick Palmieri, Director of the Summa Health Traumatic Stress Center. “The expanded programming made possible by this grant will allow for a more comprehensive and coordinated evidence based response to the co-occurring mental health and substance abuse challenges faced by traumatized Valor Court participants. We are excited to continue partnering with Valor Court and eager to play an enhanced role in serving its participants,” concluded Palmieri.
Oriana House will provide case management services, developing case plans and assisting participants with addressing barriers, advocacy, and linkage to wrap-around services. “Community based services and long-term solutions such as stable housing, employment, and recovery support are vital to successfully overcoming the obstacles these individuals face,” said Oriana House President and CEO Jim Lawrence. “Oriana House staff are experienced at identifying individual needs and the resources available, and we are proud to be assisting with the additional services funded by the SAMHSA grant.”
Valor Court, a certified veterans treatment court, serves veterans, as well as active duty service members, who have committed a non-violent felony and have a diagnosed substance abuse, mental health disorder and/or an abnormality as a result of their military service. Applying a therapeutic approach, Valor Court addresses the unique barriers and dynamics that result from serving in the military to aid participants in leading drug- and crime-free lives. Through the duration of their participation, program participants are under the supervision of the court and Adult Probation Department. Valor Court requires participants have a comprehensive treatment plan that typically includes substance abuse and/or mental health treatment. Participants must attend regular court sessions to provide an update on their treatment plan and progress. The court adheres to evidence-based practices, offering rewards and sanctions depending on the participant’s progress or probation violations. The program lasts at least 12 months but at the Court’s discretion, participants can remain in the program for one or more years, depending on their progress and ability to meet their treatment goals.
The additional programming comes at a time when more and more veterans are returning home and suffering from the consequences of their service and combat trauma. Accordingly, the RAND Corporation reports that approximately one-third of service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have reported mental health or cognitive problems; 18.5% of service members have a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and 19.5% report having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The presence of a TBI and/or PTSD is found to increase suicidal ideation. As common as these conditions are, SAMHSA indicates that only half of service members with a mental health condition receive mental health treatment services. The prevalence of a substance use disorder among service members compounds mental health conditions. Research by the National Institute of Drug Abuse estimates that 25% of veterans have a substance use disorder and are twice as likely to abuse prescription medications as civilian populations. The VA reports that 2 out of 10 veterans with PTSD also have a substance use disorder. These statistics demonstrate the need for more programming, mental health and substance use disorder treatment for veterans.
Therefore, the goal of these services is to build off of existing services and extend the continuum of care beyond the court room. Consequently, each participant will be layered with comprehensive case management to address employment, housing and other needs; peer recovery support to encourage a culture of sobriety and relapse prevention; veteran mentors who can relate to each participant and provide participants with tools and resources that led to their success and a therapy group for participants who have co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.
Through the past several years, Valor Court has grown from serving 21 participants in 2016 to serving 51 in 2017. Thus far in 2018, Valor Court has already exceeded 2017’s number of participants served. In addition to enhancing services, court sessions can now be held weekly versus bi-weekly. Corrigall Jones is confident the additional programming will translate to better and more sustainable outcomes for participants.
“We are always looking for ways to improve the services and outcomes for our participants. With the additional services supported through this funding, the bar has been set high. My expectation is that all participants will have the tools and resources to sustain their success beyond participation in the program,” Corrigall Jones said.
Judge Corrigall Jones concluded, “We are grateful to be selected by SAMHSA to deliver expanded programming to participants. My hope is that Valor Court will be a model for other veterans treatment courts across the country.”