Court program developed for military veterans facing felony charges

Majority in Felony Veterans Treatment court appear for drug, alcohol offenses

SAN ANTONIO – State District Court Judge Jefferson Moore doesn’t mince words when talking about the recently established Felony Veterans Treatment Court.

“It’s not an easy program,” Moore said.

The operative word in the court’s definition, he said, is treatment.

Moore and 437th District Judge Lori Valenzuela preside over the court every Thursday.

The people who appear before them are military veterans facing felony charges.

Moore said the majority of veterans appearing before him are facing charges related to drunken driving or drugs.

“We’re a treatment court, so we’re looking for all the treatment options we can for the veterans.” Judge Moore said. “Lingering back there all the time is either take them out of the program and back into play as any other felon is.”

He said that “We do have the ability, as always, to punish anyone that’s a felon before the court.”

There is already a similar court in operation in Bexar County for misdemeanor offenders. The money for the felony court was approved by county commissioners last fall.

Both courts operate with treatment as their primary objective.

Moore said the need to establish the court became clear when Bexar County officials realized that the county jail has sections specifically for veterans.

He said that for society, and especially for the veterans, the program’s payback is huge.

“It forces them to have some sort of consistency in their lives,” Moore said.

About the Author:

Paul Venema is a courthouse reporter for KSAT with more than 25 years experience in the role.