The San Diego Returning Veterans Legal Task Force (RVLTF), the predecessor to the CVLTF, was formed in 2007 to craft a support initiative for returning veterans suffering from combat-related illnesses. The RVLTF studied a variety of veteran support models and the affects of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS/PTSD), Military Sexual Trauma (MST), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), depression, substance abuse, and other psychological injuries related to military service. RVLTF developed initial strategies to address criminal behavior by recent combat veterans who suffer from psychological injuries and encourage them to seek and complete treatment. Planning sessions were held for criminal justice practitioners, veteran treatment providers, law enforcement, prosecutors, defense counsel, veterans organizational leaders, veteran consumers and interested community leaders.
In the fall of 2009, in cooperation with California Western School of Law, a community summit was held to provide training on relevant issues. Additional training, held in 2010 and hosted by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, targeted public defenders, line prosecutors and probation officers. Over 500 individuals attended these sessions and learned about the veterans, their service-related conditions, and treatment alternatives.
In the summer of 2010, the RVLTF pursued development of the San Diego veterans treatment court and was awarded a grant from National Drug Court Institute to send a collaborative team to Buffalo, New York for a week of veterans treatment court team training. By early 2011, RVLTF was working with a designated judge and creating protocols and obtaining designation as the San Diego Superior Court’s Veterans Treatment Review Calendar (VTRC) Pilot Project. The first court session was held on Friday, February 4, 2011 at the San Diego County Courthouse in El Cajon. That same month, California Veterans Legal Task Force was designated under Internal Revenue Code §501(c)3 to provide coordination, administration and evaluation functions for the San Diego Superior Court’s VTRC. Since that inaugural session, the CVLTF/VTRC team has handled inquiries from hundreds of defense attorneys, prosecutors, veteran defendants and family members interested in VTRC admission.