A bill meant to make available to more veterans a court system that understands their needs has become law.

Some areas of the state already have what are called “veterans courts,” which offer current or former military personnel treatment rather than jail time when they commit certain offenses related to substance abuse or mental illness. A participant who completes treatment programs under a veterans court could have his or her charges or penalties dismissed, reduced or modified.

Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) has sponsored similar bills for three sessions.  He says the idea is to put people into programs that can help them.

“With a lot of folks who are running into drug and alcohol problems, and particularly veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, the smart thing to do is to get them the treatment they need to get them out of trouble and get their lives back on track and that’s exactly what this bill aims to do.”

The bill legislation is Senate Bill 118.