Brown County commissioners hear proposal on Veteran's Treatment Court

BROWN COUNTY, Texas - Brown County Commissioners met Monday morning, and on their agenda was an item on whether to consider implementing a veteran’s treatment court.

The treatment court would provide structured treatment for veterans with mental illnesses who get in legal trouble in misdemeanor and felony cases.

“They’ll be the first ones to jump out of a helicopter, but be the last ones to get in front of a camera to talk about this issue,” David Morgan said. “They will not seek help.”

Morgan worked with a Vietnam veteran living in Brown County to develop the idea after he learned that a high number of vets were getting arrested.

“Statistics support that 89 to 94 percent of the people that go through this process do not re-offend,” he said.

“It allows the county to recognize the issue, and understand that there’s an underlying psychiatric condition within the community, understand the culture where they come from,” Morgan told commissioners Monday.

“It gives a chance to the young people we send overseas,” Brown County Veterans’ Service Officer Billy Murphey told commissioners. Murphey brought the item before commissioners.

If this is implemented, veterans would face a judge and district attorney who would take their mental illness into consideration before deciding whether treatment or punishment is the best course of action, according to Morgan.

“Not only are you providing a way forward for Brown County, but you’re providing a way forward for other counties in rural Texas,” he told commissioners.

Chad Smith spoke to commissioners sitting alongside Morgan, Murphey, and Jimmy Murray of the Center for Life Resources located in Brownwood.

Smith served three tours in the Middle East before leaving the Navy in 2010 – that’s when his health troubles began.

“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, sleep apnea, [and] bipolar depression,” Smith said, describing his ailments.

On Monday he was advocating for the implementation of the veteran’s treatment court with his service dog, Sioux.

He hopes other veterans get the help they need as oppose to going through the criminal justice system.

Texas currently has 21 active veteran's treatment courts. But Brown County would be the first county in a non-major metropolitan area with this court if commissioners approve it.

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