At a press conference in Tampa Attorney General Ashley Moody announced two new initiatives aimed at providing increased legal resources for Florida’s veterans.
One will make free legal aid more accessible, while another hopes to expand the state’s veteran treatment court system.
Moody will join 20 attorneys general from across the country in support of the Veteran’s Treatment Court Coordination Act. The bill establishes a single federal office to oversee the funding and training of state and county veterans' courts.
The courts, which connect veterans with support services, help service members charged with non-violent crimes gain access to the rehabilitation services they need, rather than enter the criminal justice system.
Support form attorneys general around the country will bring more awareness to the bill, Moody said.
“Certainly we hope it will bring persuasion and influence and encourage our federal legislators to pass this important legislation supporting veteran's treatment courts,” she said.
The courts have the power to change lives, said DJ Reyes, a congressional advisory board member.
“Through the power of our community, we harness all of our resources to help heal, rehabilitate and reintegrate our men and women back into the communities that they earlier swore to defend and protect,” Reyes said.
Moody also announced a “partnership of protection” between her office's Veterans Assistance Project and the Tampa-based Bay Area Legal Services Firm.
The collaboration will give veterans the tools they need to navigate the complicated path back to civilian life and provide attorneys with the training they need to better advocate on a veteran’s behalf, Moody said.
The partnership will train attorneys to recognize scams targeted at veteran populations, fund a hotline to connect veterans across the state with free legal aid, and coordinate outreach between various veteran's groups.
“This is a partnership designed to make sure that our lawyers, both with the Florida Veterans Legal Hotline, and the Military and Veterans Assistance Project are trained and ready to stand up for the veterans who stood up for us,” said Moody.