Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow filed a petition with Circuit Court Judge Carla Policandriotes to establish a veterans and service members court. It provides critical treatment, counseling, and assistance to local veterans and service members who have struggled with mental health and substance abuse disorders since returning home from military operations.
'You do not need a drug addiction to get in here. If you have PTSD, a traumatic brain injury, depression, any other problem and you're charged with a crime, you can come to this court and avoid a conviction," Glasgow said.
"When we start to spend our resources for the people who deserve it the most that is a historic day," Judge Policandriotes said.
The judge entered an order formally establishing the court and accepted the application for the first participant. Marco Vizcaino is in custody for possession of a controlled substance. He served four years in active duty in the Army and five years in the Reserve, and a year in Iraq. On Wednesday, the judge revoked his bond. Vizcaino will sign a contract with the veterans court and spend 90 days in treatment, before he is eventually released and monitored by the court.
"Very grateful to be in this position. I have been offered a great opportunity to be able to get my life back and the right help that I need," Vizcaino said. "I was at the point where I was ready to give up and now everyone is supporting me."
"Very happy for the opportunity Marco is getting and for all the others returning from Iraq," Nori Vizcaino, mother, said.
The veterans court is the culmination of more than a year of discussion and planning on how to best serve veterans and service members who come in contact with the criminal justice system.
"If there is any group that deserves a little consideration it would be our veterans, especially when it revolves around addiction as a result of their service," Jim Moustis, chairman of the Will County Board, said.