BULLHEAD CITY — Judge Peter Psareas is appealing to the community for help for area veterans.
“Any group that thinks they want to help veterans in any way should be a part of the Veterans Resource Team,” Psareas said. “For instance if you’re a clothing store and say you’ll give five suits a month so that people can have a suit to wear to a job interview, or if you’re a restaurant that would give a gift certificate for a veteran for a hamburger or something like that — or if you want to say I’m going to give VRT $10 million, I’ll take that too. I’m not holding my breath, but we’ll take it.”
Psareas spoke Thursday of the needs of the program during a regularly scheduled meeting of the group.
“The group is not big enough,” Psareas said. “With a bigger team we can do more.”
VRT was formed last year in response to the growing needs of veterans in the community and in the justice system.
Bullhead City opened its Veterans Treatment Court in April 2017, joining similar programs in Lake Havasu City and Kingman. Veterans Treatment Court is a problem-solving court with the objective of serving military veterans struggling with addiction, serious mental illness and/or recurring disorders. The roughly 18-month program offers veterans a second chance through a coordinated response involving collaboration with the city prosecutor, county attorney, defense counsel, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and local mental health organizations, rather than incarceration.
“The Veterans Resource Team is an agent to help veterans,” Psareas said. “It’s not specific to the court; it is specific to the community.”
VRT’s goal is to build a network of support made up of individuals and businesses, as well as veteran and non-veteran based agencies that can supply for any kind of needs for veterans, especially those needs that many other organizations can’t cover. The group also fundraises to cover costs such as transportation and drug testing.
“A lot of times that’s going to be very complementary with the court and it might be the court that sends (the veteran) to the VRT but the VRT is not obligated to help anybody the court sends,” Psareas said. “And they are not obligated to ask the court for permission for what they do — their job is to help veterans however they need it. And that’s what we’re trying to build.”
Veterans Treatment Court on average takes 18 months to two years to complete, Psareas said. Veterans are put into a program of treatment with rules and consequences for failure; what veterans get is treatment and other support from groups that address their needs.
Bullhead City Veterans Court is hosting its first graduation ceremony at 3 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 22. The public is invited to attend the celebration at Bullhead City Municipal Court, 1255 Marina Boulevard.
“We’re not in it for ourselves; we’re in it for them, said Sean Regan, Veterans Treatment Court mentor. “Build them up and watch them amaze you with their ingenuity.”
Psareas said VRT — which is based on VRT organizations that support Veterans Courts in Lake Havasu City and in Kingman — works best when it’s a clearinghouse run by a nonprofit organization.
“Their role is to say, ‘Okay, you’re a veteran, what do you need and where do we send you to get it?’” Psareas said. VRT is currently seeking a nonprofit organization to umbrella the group.
“A nonprofit group can do fundraising, they can do whatever they need,” Psareas said. “The court can’t do that.”
For more information about VRT go online to www.bhcveterans.org.