Veterans Courts will soon be an option for some offenses in courthouses across Illinois.
A law passed last year requires the specialized courts to be in place by January first of 2018.
Williamson County State's Attorney Brandon Zanotti says it's not about special treatment - rather providing veterans with treatment or counseling they need.
"You're targeting those for whom the underlying offense wouldn't have happened, but for the service-related injury or illness."
He says it's about helping veterans get the help they need, rather than locking them up.
"People would come back with a clinical disorder - like PTSD - and they wouldn't do anything about it. They would see it as making them look cowardly, they'd have too much shame and they'd hide it. A lot of times they would turn to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate, instead of getting the treatment they require. This would be a way to target them and get them the treatment they require."
Zanotti says moving a veteran into the specialized court system would be on a case-by-case basis, and up to the discretion of the State's Attorney and judges. It might provide for probation rather than jail time, along with mental health and substance abuse counseling.
The Veterans Courts must be set up and ready to go by January 1, 2018.