A recent article reported the debate between David Neupert and Brian Coughenour, both candidates for the Clallam County Superior Court judge position.
In that article, Mr. Neupert said if elected, he would strive to establish a veterans court, possibly using money from the “Hargrove Funds” that are to be used for dependency treatment and mental health issues.
Mr. Coughenour debunked that position, stating there are only a small number of veterans that would be served.
It is obvious that Mr. Coughenour has no idea of our local veteran population and their needs.
Clallam County has one of the highest per capita veteran populations in Washington state, with veterans coming from all walks of life.
Some are successful in business or retired on fixed incomes.
Others live daily with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from their experiences or have illnesses like Agent Orange exposure.
Lastly, there are those who are unable to cope with day-to-day normal life in this society.
The bottom line is they are all veterans who served their country when needed.
A veterans court would not seek to forgive nor minimize criminal behavior.
It would, however, seek to provide a positive treatment option to those veterans who have committed criminal acts that may have been exacerbated by the veteran’s past experiences, PTSD or other factors that are the result of military service.
This may be a “boutique” court, to use Mr. Coughenour’s term, but entry would require former military service, which limits it to those who have given a portion of their lives to military service and/or placed their lives on the line for the freedoms that we all enjoy today.