Public Media for Central Pennsylvania
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Six central Pa. counties form program to support veterans charged with serious crimes

Outside view of the Huntingdon County Courthouse.
An outside view of the Huntingdon County Courthouse. Huntingdon is one of six counties involved in the new "Regional Veterans Treatment Court," along with Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Huntingdon, Juniata and Perry.

Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Huntingdon, Juniata and Perry counties are entering into a shared “Regional Veterans Treatment Court” program, which supports veterans struggling with life after serving in the military.

Veterans courts help veterans who are charged with serious crimes and struggling with addiction or mental illness, including PTSD.

Scott Walls is the chair of the Huntingdon County commissioners.

“People don't always understand. You know, veterans, they deal with a lot whenever they're deployed, and they have some issues that are not necessarily criminal," Walls said.

There are currently 25 veterans treatment courts in Pennsylvania, but most are in the western and eastern parts of the state.

Pennsylvania has the fourth highest veteran population in the country, according to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. Huntingdon County's veteran population is 1.3 times higher than the state average.

Huntingdon County commissioners agreed to move forward with the regional program last week.

“We're a small county. And, you know, it's not feasible for us to have our own veterans court," Walls said.

Walls said the six counties in the regional program will share a traveling judge who is trained in supporting veterans.

Centre County Commissioner Mark Higgins said a Clinton County judge volunteered to take that position, since he is already a part of a veterans treatment court in Clinton County.

Counties can each request around $10,000 per year through a state grant to fund the regional program. Those funds can go toward costs like salaries, transportation and drug testing supplies.

Sydney Roach is a reporter and host for WPSU with a passion for radio and community stories.