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Invisible Wounds of War

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio (Deb Dixon) -- The wounds of war arent always visible.

Studies show the numbers of veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries are staggering.  Invisible injuries can affect everything vets try to do when they come home and that sometimes leads to legal problems.  Local 12 News reporter Deborah Dixon takes us inside a special courtroom where some vets in Hamilton County get the help they need.

Three veterans that spoke with Local 12 News walk through the photo display in the lobby of the Hamilton County courthouse that includes them.  They speak the language of war. 

All three have post-traumatic stress disorder.  Something they didn't understand until they got in trouble with the law. Misdemeanor stuff, they ended up in vet court.

Every photograph in the display is of a vet from vet court.  The yearlong program includes treatment for trauma and addiction and help getting benefits.  The program also includes help for drugs, alcohol and help getting housing benefits and jobs.

2,000 vets come through the court system a year.  Thirty of them are in this volunteer program.  A team develops a strict plan that includes urine testing, check- ins with a probation and the judge.

Judge Melissa Powers said, If theyre using alcohol to self-medicate their post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury symptoms then we have the expectation for them to get completely sober, go through mental health portion of the treatment, and then transition back into society.  If youre using drugs the same thing.

Their progress is documented and celebrated. 

Vets say the year old court is helping them find their way back home.

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