Funds still elusive for new Manatee veterans court

BRADENTON -- A sticking point in creating a veterans treatment court in Manatee County has been paying for it.

"Honestly, it's all money," Jennifer Joynt-Sanchez, assistant public defender for the 12th Judicial Circuit Court, said Thursday at a meeting of the new Manatee County Veterans Court Council.

Without proper funding, agencies could be overwhelmed by the workload of managing court cases, directing veterans into treatment and counseling.

One promising funding source, $300,000 in state funds requested by state Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, is now in doubt because of the failure of the Legislature to approve a budget in April.

The Legislature will convene a special session Monday to pass the budget.

"I will fight for it. It's not completely out of the picture. There is still a chance that we could get it this year," Steube said in a phone interview Thursday.

The allocation would be split between veterans courts in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

The proposed court is needed because of the number of homeless vets in the 12th Judicial Circuit who come in contact with law enforcement, Steube said.

In other business, the Manatee County Veterans Court Council began establishing a group of mentors to work one on one with troubled vets. The mentor group will hold its first meeting at 3 p.m. Monday at Turning Points, 707 17th Ave. W., Bradenton.

The council also asked for letters of support for veterans treatment court, to be submitted to Chief Judge Andrew Owens Jr. Letters should be forwarded to Patti Durham, VetCorps prevention coordinator, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Suite 303, Bradenton FL 34205.

Information: 941-748-4501, ext. 3490.

James A. Jones Jr., Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter@jajones1.