It was only fitting for Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst to appear on Talk Back and promote the Veterans Court on Veteran's Day.

Pabst said the Veterans Court was initiated in 2011.

"Missoula Veterans Court was establish through a collaboration between the VA and some interested veterans, as well as people involved with the court staff," Pabst said. "It was established to assist veterans who are having a hard time integrating back into civilian life, and who may have some trouble with the justice system. Some of them served in Vietnam, some in the Gulf War, some in Bosnia. They're highly decorated, but they're having a hard time reintegrating, and it's because of a mental health challenge that's related to the military, combined with a substance abuse challenge, so a lot of folks who are a lot smarter than me got together and created this program."

Pabst said anyone can refer a veteran to this special program.

"Once they're referred, they go through a pretty intense screening process," she said. "Less than half are actually accepted into the program. It's a community-based, multi-disciplinary approach. The Veterans Court works very closely with the VA office, the local vets center and other groups. They work with chemical dependency counselors, they're subject to frequent UA's (urine tests) to make sure they're not using, they make sure they're involved in mental health treatment, and they're rewarded for their success.They appear every week for awhile until it tapers off, but it's a really supportive court system  and very communicative. They really want the veterans to succeed."

Pabst pointed out the special contributions of veteran mentors.

"Each veteran is assigned two volunteer veteran mentors," she said. "They're trained in the program, but they're just there to help them walk through the process. We have all of these volunteer veterans who come out of the woodwork and want to continue to serve by helping out their fellow veterans."

For those interested in finding out more about the Veterans Court, or to become a mentor, call 258-4728, or email to

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