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Home Courts By County El Paso County Veterans Trauma Court (VTC)
Home Courts By County El Paso County Veterans Trauma Court (VTC)
Veterans Trauma Court (VTC)

The Goal of the Veterans Trauma Court (VTC):

The Veterans Trauma Court (VTC) is a state and grant funded program that provides an alternative to incarceration for U.S. military veterans and active duty military personnel with trauma spectrum disorders and/or substance abuse issues who have proven to be high risk and high need. With the collaboration of individuals from the 4th Judicial District Courts, District’s Attorney’s Office, State Public Defenders office, El Paso and Teller County Sheriff’s Departments, Colorado Springs & Fountain Police Departments, Probation Department, Veterans Administration, Family Care Center, UCCS Trauma Health and Hazards Clinic, Rocky Mountain Human Services (HAV Program), Operation TBI Freedom (Craig Hospital), Pikes Peak Workforce Center, Mt. Carmel Center and other alternate treatment providers;  eligible veterans are moved from the traditional courtroom environment into the VTC under the supervision of Judge David Shakes, a former Judge Advocate with the U.S. Army.

Program participants agree to actively engage in treatment and counseling, make regular court appearances, and are intensively supervised. The VTC team assists participating veterans in accessing PTSD, domestic violence, mental health and/or substance abuse treatment.  They are also connected to educational, housing, and employment resources. The VTC takes veterans regardless of their discharge status as we recognize that veterans lacking VA healthcare eligibility need our assistance.  Peer support is also available.  

Benefits to the public:

The 4th Judicial District VTC is modeled after problem solving drug courts, which have proven to be effective in handling criminal cases of substance abusers by heavily focusing on treatment, close probation supervision, and regular drug testing.  These courts have been found to restore lives and prevent future arrests.  One of the primary goals of the judiciary is always to protect the public by reducing recidivism (re-arrests).  The close monitoring by the courts and probation increases public safety.  By finding alternatives to jail/prison, we reduce the cost of jail and prison beds.  Our end goal is to reintegrate our veterans back into society, making them whole and hopefully tax paying citizens again.

How we began and who we are:

The 4th Judicial District (El Paso and Teller Counties) VTC began in December 2009 and was the first Veterans Trauma Court in Colorado and one of the first in the United States to take in felony cases.  Judge David Shakes is the current judicial officer overseeing the weekly Vet Court docket that is heard in the El Paso County Judicial Center in downtown Colorado Springs.  Judge Shakes is a retired United States Army Judge Advocate and has been a district court judge for more than 15 years.   The VTC team that works with the judge is comprised of many prior service members and all are culturally sensitive to military service and combat related issues. 

The need for a special docket for veterans is clear in Colorado Springs where more than 25% of the population is military affiliated and many of those arrested and held in our county jail are veterans. Rather than incarcerating people who have protected the liberties and freedoms of the United States, the Veterans Trauma Court connects veterans to resources through the Veterans Administration, Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists, the Vet Center, the Family Care Center, the Peer Mentor Program, Operation TBI Freedom, and other community organizations.

How participants get into the program:

Veterans can be referred from anywhere but are usually referred into the program by the public defender’s office, private attorneys, family members, or one of the peer mentors visiting the jail.  Veterans may also self-refer.   The VTC is a post-plea program.  Meaning if someone believes they are innocent of the crime they are charged, they should NOT seek entry.  The program is for veterans wishing to take accountability for their actions and seek help with their trauma and/or substance abuse issues that led them into the justice system.  The program does not provide free legal services.

Any veteran, lawyer, or family member who is interested in learning more may attend one of the VTC briefings.  They are held twice a month in room S290 at 0830.  See attached "Briefing Dates" below for exact briefing dates this year.  For further information or questions, please contact the VTC Coordinator, Kisten Born, at (719) 452-5039 or at or the Veteran Mentor Coordinator, Laurie Clemons, at (719) 452-5056




VTC Partner Links:

Veterans Health Administration Outpatient Clinic in Colorado Springs:

Colorado Springs Vet Center:

UCCS Veterans Health and Trauma Clinic:

Resurgence of Life Counseling:

Vivus Counseling:

Family Care Center:

Cedar Springs (Military Specific Programs):

UC Health/Next Chapter:

Operation TBI Freedom & Veteran Mentor Program:

Mt. Carmel Center of Excellence:

Rocky Mountain Human Services (RMHS) - Homes for All Vets:


Other Links:

Veterans Crisis Line: 24/7 Confidential Crisis Support:

  • Dial 988 – then press #1. 

How to get a copy of your DD214:

How to upgrade your discharge:

Justice for Vets:


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