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Review Of Colorado Springs Veteran Trauma Court

March 8, 2010


What's gone right?

What's gone wrong?

Veterans helping veterans

Program management

Data from the jail and who is admitted to the VTC


Community groups


Comments on the review of the Colorado Springs veteran trauma court by Guy Gambill

Comments by Ms. Laura Williams, Colorado Dept. of Human Services, and response

Introduction to Ms. Williams remarks by Dr. Corry

Ms. Laura Williams comments on the above review of the veteran trauma court

Additional comments


What's gone right?

Considering that we started from the bottom up in June 2008 the Veteran Trauma Court (VTC) in Colorado Springs has come a long way. District Judge Ronald Crowder has been with us practically from the beginning, so we've been assured of judicial support. Rich DeBlasio of the Veterans Administration in Denver started working with us in September 2008 as well as troops and the base police at Fort Carson.

The SAMSHA grant in November 2008 to CO DHS provided funding for the coordinator position we knew we needed to pay for from the beginning. A full-time coordinator is required to sort out the many cases of vets being jailed and winnowing out the few who might be eligible for the VTC.

Jason DeaBueno with PPBHG, Joe Sorenson (Home Front Cares), people from the CO Workforce Center, and a number of other community and state organizations dealing with veteran issues joined in.

Demographics in El Paso County, with five military bases and five police departments all using the same county jail, made the cooperation of the sheriff critical. While Sheriff Maketa was originally a bit reluctant (budget cuts and staffing issues), he is now fully on board. District Attorney Dan May is also now fully committed to the VTC concept together with two public defenders.

In December 2009 the model to be followed was switched from a drug court, where a conviction was required before treatment, to a mental health court model where treatment begins as soon as the veteran enters the VTC and, if successful, charges can be dismissed. A huge step forward.

Thus, working from the bottom up, a number of community, state, and federal organizations collectively pulled a pilot program for a VTC together by the summer of 2009. Judge Crowder began informally hearing a few veteran's cases in October 2009 and the VTC was formally announced in late February 2010. And State Rep. Marsha Looper introduced enabling legislation into the 2010 session of the Colorado legislature.


What's gone wrong?

Veterans helping veterans


From the outset it has been clear that to succeed any disabled veteran entering the VTC would need assistance outside the court system. In fact, it would be better if disabled vets never got into the court system if early intervention was possible. And diversion programs have been proposed, and some work to a limited extent, that depend on official agency interventions. Many other community organizations also work very hard to help disabled veterans but you would be hard pressed to find that out from the VTC managers. Note that the VTC must be a safety net for veterans, not a weir to trap them.

Veterans respond best to another veteran and it is clear that any buddy system will require veterans helping troubled vets. From the outset we have been talking to veteran groups here in Colorado Springs, and there are many, only to be told over and over again by the program manager that program wasn't ready yet.

Finally at the end of February I received a draft flyer about the VTC calling for volunteer mentors. That badly needs to be rewritten and currently provides no information about what training the mentor will need to work with the VTC and only a vague hint as to what they will be doing. The advisory board of the VTC contains some world-class talent that isn't being effectively used for such obvious tasks as reviews.

Program management


The situation with mentors, or peer specialists, well illustrates a massive communication failure in the VTC program. It seems the program manager is either unwilling, unable, or incapable of regularly emailing the community participants and asking for feedback on proposed flyers or policies. Instead these are presented to us as a fait accompli from on high by Carrie Bailey. I'm quite certain I'm not the only one who resents that dictatorial top-down approach.

In the fall of 2009 Robert Alvarez was forced out of his position as board chair that he had been freely elected to in December 2008. That was done top down without notice or discussion by other members. And Mrs. Bailey, who was hired as the coordinator in July 2009, by October was miraculously promoted to program manager, a position we don't need. As a result our once a month advisory board meetings were dropped to once every three months or so without discussion. Fewer meetings might be acceptable if email was used to keep the board informed between meetings. Of course, that isn't happening. Also, the many community groups who were attending dropped out as top-down management was phased in.

One reason community groups dropped out was that the program manager published an organizational chart that only included a VTC court team and a VTC services and support team in which most community groups were ignored. In a program where employment, security clearances, education, housing, food, medical help, how to deal with the VA, and family issues are paramount, with the VTC mainly a backstop when all else fails, such actions as this suggests complete ignorance of the issues.

The coordinator position was then left vacant until February 2010. The coordinator position is the most critical linchpin in the VTC and presumably there was only money in the SAMSHA grant to pay for one full-time position. So why do we now have money to pay an imperial program manager we don't need plus a late-starting coordinator who we have needed from the beginning?

If the VTC program is to work it will be from the bottom up with active interaction with various community groups that is completely lacking now. As of the last two meetings of the advisory board in the fall of 2009 the community groups so fundamental to success have disappeared.

Data from the jail and who is admitted to the VTC


Another requirement of the VTC program is data collection and that is provided for in the SAMSHA grant. Naturally the data collection forms were designed by Beltway Bandits who've never been closer to the military than driving past the Pentagon.

But arrangements were finally made with the El Paso County jail to add a drop-down box on the booking form on their computer and provide periodic reports to Michelle Slattery of Peak Research, who is being paid from the grant to collect and disseminate this data to interested parties.

It is critical to the design and execution of the VTC to know how many veterans are coming through the county jail and what crimes they are being charged with, particularly whether the crimes are violent or non-violent, and what level, misdemeanor or felony.

Yet in the five or six months that Peak Research has been collecting data from the county jail not one report has been sent to members of the advisory board. The only activity I've witnessed by Peak Research was a rather intrusive interview by an intern collecting data about VTC participants.

Is it really necessary to state that data are of no value unless and until they are collated and disseminated? There are a number of questions that require answers that await such dissemination. For example, other states and groups are reporting ~70% of veteran's crimes are alcohol related. Colorado demographics clearly show the most common crimes here are domestic violence, which is an add-on charge and some 24% of all misdemeanors, while alcohol-related crimes only run around 5% according to the state court administrator. So what crimes are veterans committing locally? If only Peak Research could be troubled to tell us!



Not having met for three months, the program manager has now scheduled us to be lectured by Marguerite McCormack, MA, LPC, on the "underlying neurochemical & neurobiological aspects of trauma & mild TBI, the causes & symptoms of each, some of the challenges of treatment, & suggestions for distinguishing PTSD/TBI from malingering &/or ensconced criminal behavior."

A decade of experience with the social sciences has taught me that anytime someone with just an MA degree starts using big words like "neurochemical & neurobiological" that I'm going to get hit with a barrage of psychobabble. I also note that Ms. McCormack's trauma experience lies principally with victims of the Columbine High School shooting. I hope we are all aware that the troops we are dealing with are often traumatized by the fact that they've been killing women and children, the opposite problem of dealing with their victims. Is McCormack an expert on how to treat the Eric Harris' and Dylan Klebold's of the world? If not, why should we listen to her?

One of the big problems with top-down managers who don't communicate with their peers is that they miss the obvious. Many of us have had PTSD, I'd say virtually all of us have had close friends and buddies with the disorder, some of us have seen comrades suicide from these problems, and none of us need a lecture by someone with less education than we have on the topic.

From the bottom up it would make sense to hear a report on what Lt. Col. Pina-Thomas is doing, and the other work being done at Evans Hospital on Fort Carson. Pogany just talked with the Fort Carson CG and certainly has first-hand knowledge of veteran's problems. Lets hear what he has to say. How about listening to Bob Alvarez and what the Army Wounded Warrior program is doing? It would also be nice to hear from Judge Crowder on his view from the bench of how we are doing, as well as problems Jeff Lindsey sees from the DA's perspective.

If, after consulting with the advisory board, it is found we really need some medical and psychiatric information how about calling on Dr. Hal Wortzel, who is doing forensic psychiatry and neuropathology at the VA Hospital in Denver. He has been interested in this program from the beginning. And for TBI may I suggest Dr. Judith Ray who conducts forensic studies on the subject locally, and testifies as an expert witness in these cases. I prefer real experts!

Community groups


As I'm sure is true for many groups like the Equal Justice Foundation, most of the veterans who need our help are not in the court system. Ideally we could keep all of them out of it but the VTC is needed as a backstop.

However, the main emphasis of setting up a veteran court is to first identify and provide access to the multitude of community, state, and federal services available to veterans. I almost never hear the same problem twice and certainly can't fix most of them. But I can usually pass them along to another group who works closely with their issues based on a network established over the years.

And those veterans who do end up in the VTC will need these services even more desperately. Yet the program manager has weeded out the community groups from her organizational chart and they have stopped attending.

Further, there is no mechanism in place for the voices of these disparate community groups to be heard. Nor is there a comprehensive page on the Pikes Peak Military Assistance web site listing various groups providing, for example, mental health assistance. We don't make it pretty, and it is certainly incomplete, but the EJF does a much better job of tabulating mental health resources. And that is done with volunteer labor.




• Return to bottom-up management. In my experience few community groups will willingly listen to or obey CO DHS management.

• Eliminate the unnecessary program manager position and use the available money to at least minimally compensate veteran peer specialists for gas and parking.

• Reintroduce from the bottom up community and state agencies to deal with issues of employment, security clearances, education, housing, food, medical treatment and how to deal with the VA, and family issues.

• Produce regular reports summarizing the veteran population booked into the El Paso County Jail, a summary of what crimes they are charged with, how many are passed on to the VTC, case outcome summaries from the VTC, and how many who claim to be veterans are not when checked. Surely this data is being collected, or at least Pike Research is being paid to collect it, and a monthly, or semi-monthly summary would help everyone. And there is no question of "privacy" for these public records, which has been used as a false front on this issue before.

• Reintroduce regular meetings of the advisory board, and by that I mean all interested parties, and have members report on their groups activities. Typically a fixed day of the month, e.g. second Tuesday, a fixed time, e.g. 1000-1200, and a fixed location work best. We were doing that quite well until the program manager took over.

• Put out draft agendas a week before the meetings and seek input from members on what items need to be discussed. Stop dictating the agenda and making it a dialog presented solely by the program manager on topics she wants to cover.

• Publish by email and on a web site, minutes of the meetings, summaries of involved groups activities and expertise, and contact information for group leaders.

• VTC leaders must learn to call on the diverse expertise of the advisory board for review of papers, flyers, web site, activities, etc. With email that can be done rapidly and efficiently.

• If formal training sessions are found to be needed then, whenever possible, use experts already in the group and available locally. I think all of us are much more interested in what Evans Hospital on Fort Carson is doing than the psychobabble of some Denver "expert."

• Implement listings of the various groups willing to work with veterans in Colorado Springs and other areas. Where possible provide summaries of what they do and links to their web sites. The VTC is a miniscule fraction of the problems veterans and active-duty military face in our community, not the only answer.

Charles E. Corry, Ph.D., F.G.S.A.


Comments on the review of the Colorado Springs veteran trauma court by Guy Gambill


Guy Gambill is attempting to coordinate national efforts to establish veteran courts


Greetings Dr. Corry et. al.,

Thank you very much for this encapsulation of what is transpiring in the State of Colorado under the SAMHSA-GAINS Jail Diversion Pilot. These sorts of concerns (if it is any consolation) are not peculiar to the effort involving "Veterans in Justice Systems," aspects portrayed here have come to characterize much of what transpires in the social service delivery and social justice advocacy realm. Those characteristics or aspects — and the evolution and progression from which they derive — might be summarized as follows;

1). A grassroots effort or public concern gives rise to a policy effort (in this case veterans in justice).

2). The effort or concern, following constituency-specific advocacy (here from Veterans Service Organizations, Veterans Groups, members of the legal Communities, families of justice-involved veterans), leads to the construction of a policy or legislative response.

3). The Policy or Legislative Response results in a call for research (if the problem is taken to be inadequately understood or appreciated).

4). The call for data or research is undertaken (here a plethora of efforts, including the national GAINS, and other Briefs).

5). An appropriation is approved, laws are passed, RFPs go out.

6). The programmatic response or implementation begins.

At this point, across multiple issues, the effort begins to separate those who did the advocacy and have lived, personally, with the issue begin to get kicked to the curb, so to speak. The direct participation of peers would be one manifestation of this process. The reasoning is that administrative or programmatic experience trumps personal experience with the issue proper. A portion of that underlying assertion might be true — there is some truth to administrative experience being a requisite to success. Yet, what always happens is that at the Administrative end there is (as is always the case) a tendency to make decisions based on familiarity of milieu and not on familiarity with an issue. Thus, justice-involved veteran peers are not a constituency that is familiar to Human Services in the main. What ensues is program responses that make very good sense to administrators, but often very little sense to the population that is "served" — and here we are talking about veterans in justice. Peer roles, though touted in research and evidence-based practices, become a minor consideration. The tragedy of it all is that the human element gets lost in the shuffle. This has become a template which can be laid upon any population, regardless of what that population feels about the process.

I like Bob Alvarez....for those who know him he exudes the "human element" of the topic justice-involved veterans. I find it very troubling that he has been removed from this effort. The bottom line is that if there is no place for justice-involved veterans in a programmatic response which ostensibly has justice-involved veterans as its primary charge and concern...well, what the Hell's the point. Bob knows the issues, has lived with them personally. If he was elected to Chair this I need to ask by what the Hell authority he was removed — and I enjoin every other veteran to express his or her opinion on the matter. To maintain the integrity of any such response there is a need for folks with administrative or program implementation experience...but they should be working in collaboration and not dictating the parameters of response.

For those who would like a splendid example of where this sort of path leads: Consider the example of widespread homelessness in America. For nearly thirty years we have worked to curb this problem....and after billions of dollars and three decades we have more homeless people than ever — despite a plethora of organizations reporting impeccable outcomes, year after year, to HUD. How does this happen? Most homeless people can look at the problem, the research, the reports and tell you, flatout, what the problem is....but Administrators and Agency Staff simply cannot see the problems — or they ignore them.

Lastly, I come to the notion of "personal attacks" being how what Dr. Corry does here are characterized...I venture that no small amount of precisely that was done to remove Bob....at least this is done out in the open here by Dr. Corry. I don't see this as "personal attacks." I view this as the asking of valid questions that cannot be done any other way. People variously portray such things as "conflict" or needless "drama." If so, guess what? Change is painful...it involves drama, conflict, and disagreement. If the goal is to change some things here (and I think it is) then people need to see that the passion of some of us involved is not counter-productive, it is needed. You simply cannot read about some things and understand them — some things you just have to live. The passion of justice-involved veterans needs to be combined with administrative or program response to get anywhere....and I will argue that assertion with anyone here....or anyone else, for that matter.

Much of the response that is evolving around the veterans in justice efforts is reflective of one thing: all too often veterans themselves, more precisely justice-involved veterans, are very often the last ones to be asked before the decisions are made. I have found the staff of the GAINS Center to be very good, better than the vast majority of organizations with whom I have worked. I hope they might take a look at what is going on here and offer some advice. Otherwise, what will happen here is a bunch of social service staff will end up being the only ones sitting at the table and the veterans will not be present....and that I hold to be the height of invalidity.

Guy T. Gambill



Comments by Ms. Laura Williams, Colorado Dept. of Human Services, and response

Introduction to Ms. Williams remarks by Dr. Corry


Ms. Williams,

Ad hominem attacks are generally regarded as the last refuge of a scoundrel. It ill behooves you to personally attack me and ignore the arguments and positions I put forward. And nowhere in your comments do I find responses to my recommendations.

I have commented below in support of my positions in blue Courier font and enclosed those in square brackets [ ].

I note up front that it appears that as a representative of Colorado's Dept. of Human Services (DHS) you are in blatant violation of Colorado's Open Meetings Law C.R.S. § 24-6-402 and I have pointed out examples of that below and a copy of the current law is available here so that others may judge for themselves. And whether you are technically in violation or not, it is simply common practice and polite to announce all meetings and provide minutes. Also I do not think it should require a formal Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request to obtain information and data from the veteran trauma court program.

In the interest of keeping this short the original review together with Guy Gambill's comments and concerns are posted above.

Charles E. Corry, Ph.D., F.G.S.A.

Ms. Laura Williams comments on the above review of the veteran trauma court

[Dr. Corry's responses are indented and in blue Courier font]



It took me a couple of days to even respond because of your same MO of wrapping ideas and suggestions that have merit in sarcasm and put downs. I will say that at least you started out with what has gone right in your opinion - I appreciate that you shared some positives.I was really disappointed though as I thought you and I were off to more positive communications when you called me last week and we got to discuss the issues you brought up in this email. For those who did not have the benefit of that conversation, I will attempt to respond to some of your concerns.

For the record, the Colorado Springs Advisory Council asked for the program manager position.

[Being one of the pioneers in proposing a veteran court in Colorado Springs, and having served on the advisory board from its outset, this is the first I have heard, on or off the record, that the advisory board asked for a program manager position.

I note that the VTC advisory board clearly meets the definition of a "Local public body" as defined in C.R.S. § 26-4-402(1)(a) (click here for copy) as well as that of a "State public body" as defined in § 26-4-402(1)(d) since a number of state agencies are involved.

Further, C.R.S. § 26-4-402(2)(c) states unequivocally that "Any meetings at which the adoption of any proposed policy, position, resolution, rule, regulation, or formal action occurs or at which a majority or quorum of the body is in attendance, or is expected to be in attendance, shall be held only after full and timely notice to the public..." and § 26-4-402(2)(d)(I) goes on to require that "Minutes of any meeting of a state public body shall be taken and promptly recorded, and such records shall be open to public inspection," and (2)(d)(II) requires the same of local public bodies.

Further, C.R.S. § 26-4-402(3)(b(I) states: "All meetings held by members of a state public body subject to this part 4 to consider the appointment or employment of a public official or employee or the dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation of, or the investigation of charges or complaints against, a public official or employee shall be open to the public..."

Now even if some Philadelphia lawyer were to somehow show the VTC did not fall under the CO Open Meetings Law it would simply be good practice to announce meetings and post agendas in advance, and post minutes after the meetings. This is something I have repeatedly and politely requested, and just as often been ignored and now insulted. And when I brought up the requirements of C.R.S. § 26-4-402 at the December 2009 meeting you made the specious claim that it only applies to elected officials. C.R.S § 26-4-402 makes it quite clear that this law is not limited to elected officials and I am formally requesting you comply with the Open Meeting Law. As an aside, I am also wondering what is so difficult about putting out an email notice of VTC meetings?]

The position was called program manager because that is the title that best fit the job description and was consistent with the job classification at the Pikes Peak Behavioral Health Group - the agency sponsoring the position. Carrie Bailey has not made any unilateral decisions about any aspect of the grant.The process has included discussing issues/changes with the Advisory Board to get their feedback and ideas before going forward. However, any final decisions related to the grant have come through me.

[Now I am confused. Does Mrs. Bailey work for, and is she paid by Pikes Peak Behavioral Health Group, or is she a state employee working for CO DHS? And, therefore, what is she program manager of? You have stated that you are the program manager for CO DHS and if Mrs. Bailey works for Pikes Peak Behavioral Health Group she can only be program manager for their portion of this program and has no authority outside of her agency.

This confusion could have been easily avoided by emailed public announcements of such meetings and the agendas where such discussions took place as required by law and by common practice.]

Robert is the Co-Chair of the Resource Advisory Council and he has (generously) agreed to participate in the annual Jail Diversion and Trauma Recovery - Priority to Veterans grantee meeting coming up in March. He will be in a position to speak to some of the needs of veterans involved in the criminal justice system.

[At the December 2009 VTC meeting I asked plainly and explicitly why Mr. Alvarez was not chairing the meeting and you clearly stated that you were in charge. You also claimed Mr. Alvarez had not been elected to the chair, which I pointedly denied as I was present at the December 2008 meeting where he was elected by the advisory committee.]

The program coordinator for the Peer Specialist program has been hired, veterans have been calling to volunteer, and training and curriculum for the volunteers is being developed and finalized. The training is to make certain the volunteers have a better understanding of the organizations involved, the people involved, the resources within the community, and safety issues for them and the veterans. I agree with you (and many others) that this is an essential element to the overall program.

[The original goal of the Colorado Springs VTC was to hire a coordinator at the earliest possible date and it was my understanding that was what Mrs. Bailey was hired to do in July. Now, without notice or the requisite public discussion, Mrs. Bailey has become a "program manager" working for who knows who, and a second, so far unidentified individual of indeterminate qualifications has been hired. And does this individual work for CO DHS or some other agency?

I find the lack of communications in this program astounding given the ease that electronic mail provides for dissemination of such information. Also, in developing training and information brochures you would be well advised to seek review and suggestions from members of the advisory board. Again, drafts can be easily circulated via email together with a deadline for comments where appropriate.]

Your comments about Carrie Bailey, Michelle Slattery (and Peak Research), and Marguerite McCormack are rude and unprofessional.

[An evaluation of someone's performance is never unprofessional and however such evaluations are worded the individuals involved are likely to find such comments offensive. The question is whether the evaluation is accurate and your ad hominem response tends to suggest mine were.]

You've never met or spoken with Ms. McCormack.

[Basing an evaluation on experience is common practice. After hearing her, in my professional opinion the "training" by Ms. McCormack had little applicability to the requirements of the VTC. While it may have been useful background information for some attendees not previously seen at a VTC meeting, her briefing brought nothing new forward about PTSD or TBI as applicable to veterans, and was relevant only to trauma victims. As alluded to in my original review, what is needed are treatments and practices that work with veterans who are the perpetrators of violence, and traumatized thereby. Lt. Col. Pina-Thomas has graciously offered training by Fort Carson's Evan Hospital personnel on April 28th and I sincerely hope that can be arranged and announced to the public. Their experience is much more directly applicable to the problems before us.

A couple of additional comments vis a vis Ms. McCormack's presentation. While sexual trauma occurs among a higher percentage of female veterans there are roughly twice as many male veterans who are victims of sexual trauma simply due to the larger percentage of men who enter the military.

Additionally, it is critical to the existence of a veteran trauma court to make it very clear why the problems of veterans require a special court. There are as many or more civilians suffering from PTSD and TBI due to sexual trauma, accidents, etc. than there are veterans. The Equal Justice Foundation has already heard complaints about the problem of equal representation and special treatment in the courts for veterans. It is worth noting that our VP, Mrs. Sheryle Hutter, has received statewide awards for her work with the disabled community. So if a special court for veterans is to be promoted we had best publish very good and well-justified reasons for doing so. Given the failure of the CO DHS to obey the Open Meeting Law I think a civil liberties attorney like David Lane would make short work of our current program.

So if people like Ms. McCormack are to present it is imperative that the justification for the VTC be a fundamental part of such presentations.]

Michelle is a first-rate evaluator and researcher. Judging her professional merits on whether or not she reports data to you regularly is not fair. It is not part of her job.

[I base evaluations on performance and what Peak Research and Mrs. Slattery have produced. So far that it very little. While I do not expect her to report her data to me specifically, I do expect she should report summaries and progress to the VTC advisory board.

The question I hear most is how many veterans are being booked into the El Paso County Jail. Preliminary data provided in October 2009 showed 403 veterans and active-duty military booked in a period of 55 days out of 3,996 total bookings. Given the preliminary estimate, more than 1,000 veterans have been booked since the October 14, 2009, end date of the initial sample. Whether the preliminary data are an accurate sample is critical to future plans for a veteran trauma court. Peak Research has been gathering that data and there is no reason a summary cannot be produced on some sort of reasonable interval, e.g., quarterly. It appears to me that we are pouring taxpayer money in but getting nothing out. And this is certainly a basis on which to judge her "professional merits."]

She has provided information in past meetings but to be honest while there have been 16 veterans screened for the VTC and evaluations only six have agreed to participate in the evaluation. Not a lot of data yet.

[Your statement that only six of sixteen veterans agreed to participate brings to the forefront a basic concern of mine and one that Guy Gambill has repeatedly expressed. If only one third of the initial, and one presumes carefully selected, sample choose to participate in the program we have failed in our basic objective and simply created another expensive boondoggle. And how veterans for the VTC are selected seems to be another deep, dark secret that should be discussed.

We know these veterans are extremely likely to reoffend if we simply catch, convict, and release them. And the violence of their crimes is also likely to increase if they are left untreated. As I've repeatedly stated we need to work as a community from the bottom up to develop answers to the manifold problems these veterans and the community face. I would also note that, while the veterans we are concerned with typically have PTSD and TBI in common there is no one-size-fits-all solution for their issues and a veteran trauma court is but a tiny part of this.]

Peak Research is Michelle's evaluation company and has nothing to do with the work on this grant. For this effort, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Trauma, Health and Hazards Center, which has been sub-contracted to complete the evaluation, employs Michelle. Carrie has been working extremely hard on this project and not one other person on this grant, the VTC, or the veterans she has worked with have had even one negative or critical thing to say about her.

[Has anyone else gotten any data or summaries from her? Or, like me, have they been waiting to see what she produces? For myself, I've waited long enough.]

You might find it interesting that she, like you, is one of the biggest proponents for building/expanding services for not only individual veterans but also their families and children. She is a veteran and is married to an active duty soldier.

Your personal comments about people involved serve no other purpose than to hurt and inflame – you seem to look for malevolence or harm where there is none. Stick to the issues we are all working together to address to the best of our abilities, keep at least some measure of civility in your communications, and focus your criticisms on issues and solutions and we can work together. As I have said to you before the sarcasm and put downs only make it that much more difficult to hear you and the information and resources you have to contribute.

[As stated initially, ad hominem attacks degrade you so put your tender feelings aside, take off your victim hood, and pay attention to the issues at hand. And the credibility of Colorado's Dept. of Human Services isn't a help to you. Testimony to our legislature indicates some 35 children under the "protection" of your agency have died in the past three years, several of them in El Paso County. In Larimer County the Denver Post reports DHS didn't even bother to complete reports on 10 of 11 children who died just since 2008 while "protected" by DHS. According to numerous reports DHS has legalized kidnapping of children and appears to be running an adoption ring for profit from federal funds. Your agency puts men in jail for non-payment of child support even though DNA evidence clearly shows the child(ren) are not theirs. And when we've testified at the legislature about these injustices DHS fields lawyers with propaganda about why such indentured servitude is necessary. A more disastrous, dangerous, and dysfunctional agency than yours is hard to imagine. Those are facts, not a personal attack on you.

As elucidated above, my comments in the initial review were well based and justified. And to your shame you have completely ignored the recommendations and chosen to simply attack me for stating the obvious.]

It is my hope we can continue to try and build more productive communications Chuck.

[It might help communications if you were to take note of your relative lack of education and experience. It would definitely help for you to take a course in deductive, inductive, and symbolic logic so as to avoid obvious fallacies.

I learned at a fairly early age that if someone older and better educated than I were to offer me advice it was well worth my time and effort to pay attention to them. A lesson you seem not to have yet learned.

If the VTC pilot project is to advance, and I have my doubts at present, communications on and from your end must dramatically improve. What exactly is your problem with obeying the law and sending out emails, agendas, posting minutes, providing data summaries, etc.? In the four decades I've been a program manager on projects that spanned continents and oceans, for which I've received international recognition, the VTC program has about the worst communications I've seen. Since I'm the one who has been documenting this project for the past two years I don't think the problems are with me however much umbrage you take at my pointing out the issues.]


Laura Williams, MA, LPC

CO Dept. of Human Services

Division of Behavioral Health

3824 W. Princeton Circle, #15

Denver, CO 80236

Email: laura.williams@state.co.us



Additional comments


From: Charilyn

Subject: Re: Review of Colorado Springs Veteran Trauma Court - Reply to Laura Williams

Date: Fri, 19 Mar 2010 15:44:12 -0700 (PDT)

I don't have the emotional equilibrium to put up with this back and forth conflict. While I don't mind healthy debate, this has moved beyond professionalism and into personal argumentation, which accomplishes nothing for my son or others like him. Please remove my name from the list before another response to this thread is given. I don't want to be involved in the arguments of the Colorado Trauma Courts. Hash it out in private and come out with a united front.



From: Heidi

Subject: RE: Review of Colorado Springs Veteran Trauma Court - Reply to Laura Williams

Date: Fri, 19 Mar 2010 23:49:41 +0100

I agree Charilyn.Please remove me from this thread. I'm exhausted dealing with my son. He is currently being discharged from the army and I know he is sitting in jail with a broken heart. All he wanted was to be army for the rest of his life.



From: Judi

Subject: RE: Review of Colorado Springs Veteran Trauma Court - Reply to Laura Williams

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 2010 07:52:48 -0600

Chuck, well said! Your penultimate paragraph: "...disastrous, dangerous, anddysfunctional..." (referring to DHS) nails it. Keep it up!

Judi, Psy.D.


From: Jack

Subject: RE: Review of Colorado Springs Veteran Trauma Court - Reply to Laura Williams

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 2010 10:17:56 -0500

Dang, wading into the mire of our entrenched bureaucracies! May You prevail.

Jack, D.D.S.


From: Sharon

Subject: RE: Review of Colorado Springs Veteran Trauma Court - Reply to Laura Williams

Date: Sun, 21 Mar 2010 14:51:24 -0400


Dear Dr. Corry:


I have read and will re-read this email and attachment. I admire your persistence and perseverance on this matter and all matters related to DV and all the atrocities and sneaky ways these people try to make it "appear" as though they are "end all" of everyone's life and they are only there to help.

I have my own feelings about the way DHS lied and bullied their way through my brother, Brian R________, and his children's life. They did not honor one rule of their Code of Ethics. In his case they violated them all. I now am seeing the after effects this has had on him and his children. I saw it when he started through it all, but now I have a brother who is unable to handle what little is left of him. I truly am not finished with the people at the Woodland Park DHS office, but have been waiting for Brian to get back on his feet. He has become a depressed individual and has walled himself off from everyone, now even his own children. The mother started allowing him to have conversation with a short time back and he has been involved with a professional counselor for them according to the adopted plan from DHS to the DR case. He is afraid to approach the courts regarding the RO she put in place and she claims they have told her he will need an attorney to get this matter modified. He is in debt attorney wise now and at this point has no home, a borrowed car, a very small RV on our mother's property, and now seems to have lost his dignity/self-worth that he appeared to have left when he first got out of jail late January 2010. I am not sure how Teller County can do this to people and only be fair to one side and not help the other side; but yet defend people that have truly committed a crime and the GAL, DHS, and Teller County Police Department chose to cover up. Long story to that last sentence. I have patiently tried to mend the fence with the ex for the sake of the children and Brian's future. I will someday find someone who will help me; perhaps fire some of these people or sue the county for lies and cover-up done through every government official involved in his case.

I will be sending in some due money for your organization this month and try to come up with ideas on ways to bring in more money for this organization. You inspire me to continue on even when everyone looks at you and says "what are you going to do?" My response is always the same, "I will not turn my head and look the other way" and I will not repeat " What are you going to do?" If they did this to him and his family they have done it to hundreds of others and even more when you take in the whole Government in this situation as a whole.

I am not the most educated or of the highest intelligence, but when I read letters written to the judge for the court review and I see a DHS supervisor who cannot even spell the word subpoenaed, then I am quite worried.

If you know of anyone I can talk to regarding my brother and his very apparent depression after all the degrading submission he had to endure, please let me know. Thank you.

Anyway, I hope to meet you on one of my trips out to see my family and hope that you are doing very well after your double knee replacement. Take care of yourself and your family. My husband and I love reading your website with your life stories there. Keep up the good work and I am behind you 100 percent with whatever little I can do help get the truth out there.




Date: Sun, 21 Mar 2010 14:53:05 -0700 (PDT)

From: Guy Gambill

Subject: RE: Review of Colorado Springs Veteran Trauma Court - Reply to Laura Williams



Oh boy, it is always hard to figure out how to take this sort of thing. I guess part of me notes that I have been in the same position as Dr. Corry and have also been in the same position as Laura and the others. Sometimes my decisions were correct — in retrospect — and sometimes I was wrong — more than once, very wrong. Thus, it is hard to know how to respond to all of this...

I would first ask everyone to remember that giving veterans a break in our justice system is a relatively new concept — for decades the VVA's membership was often the lone group raking the coals in this domain. People now have begun to look at this as if it has always been so — it has not. There were many who fought very, very hard to get here — and they are often left out in the end. I have seen that happen not only with veterans but in a variety of other issue areas over the course of decades.

I guess what we are really talking about here might be reduced to two categories;

1). Dissent

2). How dissent within a process is expressed.

Dissent can be a great thing. It can also be disastrous, and again I have been on both ends of that equation. I guess what this comes down to is that there is merit in some of what Dr. Corry has to say, indeed there is, but his manner of expression has sown discord. I cast no stones, done the same thing myself before. I guess we can ill afford dissension that divides us at this juncture. I would enjoin everyone to look at what makes sense, what is valid, and leave the rest.

I think many forget the "why" of all of this amidst the discussion of the "how." The "why" of these pilots was to recognize and honor veterans whose justice contact originated out of their military service, given our national experience during and after Vietnam. Secondarily, we hoped to curb the ill aftereffects of justice contact. While I note that we have decidedly made progress...there remains much to do and I do not see how the national emergent models fully address either of the forces that we sought to correct. Nationally, peers often have a secondary or tertiary role, and that is not an attack upon anyone, merely a statement of fact. Most of the veterans courts offer "relief" postconviction — we fail to deal with the impact stemming from the leaving of a justice record in the form of a digital footprint, and since that problem is highly complex, we act as if it does not exist.

At any rate, I am over in Minnesota. I try to follow as closely as I can what goes on in other States, but cannot understand it all well. I hope folks will pull together and try to figure out how to solve some of these problems.

Guy T. Gambill



Date: Sun, 28 Mar 2010 15:54:47 -0400

Subject: Thank you and a question

From: Penny Coleman


Hi Chuck,

I write about veterans issues for AlterNet and am a good friend of Guy's. And in case all you have been getting is negative feedback for your treatment court review, I for one, appreciate your insight, your outrage, and your willingness to stir the stagnant.

That said, I'm wondering if you (or anyone else) have yet been able to gather any data, concrete or otherwise, on veterans and domestic violence in Colorado Springs. And can I get you to offer any thoughts about why DV rates are so high in your county, and what you expect to see if and when the system starts to spew out numbers.

Has Judge Crowder published any results of from his court, and if so, can you direct me to them?

And have you seen the attached from Travis County?

Thanks for holding all those feet to the fire. It is all so past due.

Penny Coleman


Penny Coleman is the author of Flashback: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide, and the Lessons of War



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