County OKs treatment programs for veterans

A new private/public partnership could aid Hays County’s efforts to tackle substance abuse for veterans, marking a new chapter in the county’s criminal justice reform saga.

The partnership between the Hays County Veterans Court and Austin Recovery Inc. will provide short and long-term treatment programs for veterans fighting with substance abuse disorders.

A letter agreement between the two entities was approved unanimously by the Hays County Commissioners Court on May 21.

“This is a program we can provide to our veterans through our veterans court,” said Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe. “I think it will  be a great program to provide for our veterans.”

Austin Recovery Inc. was founded in 1967 by Jim and Hazel Lavender. For more than 50 years, the company has provided counseling, housing and vocational training on the company’s farm in Buda.

Some of the patients at the facility have been discharged from the Austin State Hospital for being “chronic inebriates,” according to the company’s website. Austin Recovery currently serves around 3,000 patients in its operation.

The program is 100% grant funded. Hays County will receive those funds on July 1, said Vickie Dorsett, assistant county auditor.

The purpose of the agreement is to set out the means of cooperation and coordination between the two parties. Per the agreement, they hope to provide eligible veterans charged with misdemeanor offenses in Hays County an opportunity to realize better outcomes in their contact with the criminal justice system, read the Letter of Agreement.

The court will be responsible for identifying and referring veterans for the program while Austin Recovery provides the services for rehabilitation.

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