New Veterans Treatment Court in San Diego headed by Vietnam combat veteran
"The Veterans Treatment Court will be open to both active-duty troops and former service members charged with crimes, according to emerging details of the first judicial venue of its kind in San Diego County.
Tentatively set to start in March with San Diego Superior Court Judge Roger Krauel at the helm, the court's goal is to reintegrate those struggling with the psychological baggage of their military service back into society, instead of sending them to jail for their offenses.
It appears Krauel is the right person for the right job. A Vietnam combat veteran and former Army Green Beret and Ranger, Krauel served 35 years in uniform after being drafted in 1967. He spent most of his duty days as reserve officer, with significant time assigned to the counter-terrorism field.
Former Gov. Pete Wilson appointed Krauel, 66, to the bench in 1999. He has sat on a number of courts that should serve him well on the pending court.
"As a judge, I have presided over domestic violence court, drug court, homeless court, stand-down court and mental health court," Krauel said. "In each of these focused courts, I gained experience with issues that will be addressed in VTC."
"My military experience assists me in creating rapport with persons who have military ties and appear in court," Krauel said.
In early October, Krauel and a legal team from San Diego County will travel to Buffalo, N.Y., to observe how the oldest veterans court in the country does business.
"Each court has its own culture, so a solution in one jurisdiction might not work in another," Krauel said. "But sharing the different approaches will help San Diego fashion a program that will work for us."
Buffalo Judge Robert Russell started the country's first veterans court in January 2008. A hybrid of existing specialty courts ---- such as domestic violence court, mental health court and drug court ---- veterans court has been a success.
A story on the Buffalo court earlier this year found that of 120 veterans enrolled in that program, 90 percent successfully completed the program and the recidivism rate was zero.
Below are pertinent facts edited from an interview with the judge:"