S.F. court for veterans helps with postwar adjustment
By Heather Knight
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
San Francisco Chronicle
Like many 5-year-olds, the Community Justice Center now has a new sibling.
It's the Veterans Justice Center, the brainchild of San Francisco Superior Court Presiding Judge Cynthia Ming-mei Lee.
"Ah, my pet project," she said when asked to describe it.
court works the same way as the Community Justice Center except it
focuses on veterans, particularly those who've served in Iraq and
Afghanistan. It takes place on Wednesdays in the same Polk Street
courtroom as the Community Justice Center with the same judge, but it
has extra social services provided by the U.S. Department of
Lee realized the need for the court in her
previous role as supervising judge for the court's criminal division.
Many defendants were veterans who had a hard time shifting from fighting
on the battlefield to living back at home.
"It's a cliche, but
it's a cliche that happens to be true," she said. "You spend all this
money preparing people for war, putting a gun in their hand, and telling
them that's the way to solve the problem at hand. Then you expect them
to come home and turn on a dime.
"I thought it was incumbent on the court to be proactive."
few dozen veterans have been helped so far, being offered drug and
alcohol treatment or mental health counseling. Lee plans to expand the
Veterans Justice Center citywide this year and make it a
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