The Case for Tribal Veterans Healing to Wellness Courts
University of Missouri-Kansas City Law Review, Vol. 90, No. 3, 2022
21 Pages Posted: 3 May 2022 Last revised: 7 Jun 2022
Date Written: April 1, 2022
American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN) have served in the armed forces of the United States since the Revolutionary War. Moreover, they have consistently served at the highest per capita rate of any ethnicity, even before they had Constitutional rights. Due to long-held stereotypes, Native soldiers were often assigned dangerous roles, such as walking point, tunnel rats, nighttime listening posts, and long-range recon. Statistical data shows that many AIAN soldiers, for example those deployed in Vietnam, also had excessive exposure to heavy and moderate combat. As a result, many AIAN Veterans carry the negative impact of their military service, such as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and comorbidities to include other mental health issues and alcohol and substance use problems. As has been seen in the general Veteran population, these negative consequences can lead to misconduct. In response, many local, state, and federal courts established Veterans Treatment Courts to address the underlying problems of Veterans through treatment instead of incarceration and fines. In recent years, some have advocated that these veteran-focused treatment courts be similarly established in Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts. This article supports the call to address the unique issues of justice-involved AIAN Veterans by merging the two courts within Tribal justice systems. A Tribal Healing to Wellness Veterans Court would adapt the treatment paradigm of both courts to a specialized court that also incorporates Native culture, religion, and restorative justice practices and the military experience. Such a marriage of these two courts could greatly benefit American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans who suffer the consequences of serving their country.
Keywords: Veterans, Native American Veterans, American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans, Tribal Courts, Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts, Tribal Drug Courts, Veterans Treatment Courts
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