The Honorable Marisa Tinkler Mendez, presiding judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit's Veterans Treatment Court, received the "Vetty" Veterans Justice Award, presented by the Academy of United States Veterans during the organization's 5th Annual Veterans Award Ceremony held at the Warner Theatre in Washington D.C. on January 18, 2020.
The Veterans Awards, also known as the "Vettys," are presented during the annual awards ceremony to honor members of the veteran community in various categories.
The Veterans Justice category award presented to Judge Tinkler Mendez recognizes organizations, programs or individuals that have demonstrated impact in combating the unnecessary criminalization of mental illness and extended incarceration among veterans.
Judge Tinkler Mendez has presided over the Eleventh Circuit's Veterans Treatment Court since its creation in January of 2017 thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice and additional funding from the Miami-Dade County Military Affairs Board.
The Veterans Treatment Court, in conjunction with its justice and community-based partners, recognizes that veterans have unique needs that are different from the rest of the civilian population. A significant number of those returning from military service have been exposed to prolonged combat resulting in physical injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury. These conditions sometimes lead to mental health conditions and substance abuse disorders that make it difficult for veterans to reintegrate to civilian life, and sometimes lead to behaviors resulting in arrest. The Eleventh Circuit's Veterans Treatment Court offers eligible veterans court-monitored treatment and rehabilitative services instead of incarceration for non-violent offenses.