Here are several things to get you started:
- Make sure you have everyone at the table. Have a meeting that includes your local stakeholders and ensure everyone is on board. This includes at least your local elected officials (law enforcement, district attorney, mayor, members of your local commission, the judge who would preside over the court), but also the public defender, area treatment providers, mental health providers, large employers, the prevention coalition (if you have one), the faith community, vocational organizations, probation services, etc. For Veterans Treatment Courts it also means including the Veterans Administration and the Veterans Justice Outreach Coordinator (they cover the entire state). This list could get pretty big, but you want to know up front where support lies and where barriers may exist. You won’t get a Veteran’s Treatment Court off the ground without support from the district attorney, and you want to know what services, through the Veterans Administration and the community, before you get started.
- Visit a Veteran’s Treatment Court near you if possible. Call TADCP or ask Liz Ledbetter which courts would be good for you to visit. We usually make suggestions based on where you are located, what court level you are, and other factors so that you can visit a program that could mentor yours.
- Research, research, research! There’s a lot of information out there, including implementation training that can set your new program up for a strong beginning. Visit http://justiceforvets.org for all your Veterans Treatment Court needs.
- Determine funding resources. Contact the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
- Training is available. Check out this resource http://www.justiceforvets.org/2016-vtcpi and also let the state know because they can bring the training to Tennessee for multiple parties.