House approves bill to consider PTSD as circumstance when sentencing veterans

A bill passed by the house would allow judges to consider PTSD as a mitigating circumstance when sentencing veterans. / MGN

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma House of Representatives has passed a bill that will "expand current law to enable judges to consider a diagnosis of PTSD as a mitigating circumstance when sentencing veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD, prior to being charged with a crime".

For now, Oklahoma only has two PTSD diversion programs for veteran defendants. One program is based in Oklahoma County, the other in Tulsa County.

According to the United States Department of Veteran's Affairs, 60% of all men experience trauma with 8% developing PTSD and 50% of all women have experienced a trauma with 20% developing PTSD.

"In reading about Assembly Bill 180, brought by Rep. Dianne Hesselbein, the ranking Democratic member of the Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs, the message was that this issue is neither Democratic or Republican, but just something positive for veterans," stated Rep. Richard Morrissette, (D-OKC), the principal author of HB2595 and an attorney practicing in Oklahoma City. "We train men and women to defend our nation in combat and then we expect, upon their return to civilian life, the trauma experienced by these individuals to be erased from their psyche. That is an unreasonable and unfair expectation."

Veterans of Foreign Wars, Secretary of Veteran's Affairs, Major General Rita Aragon and several others support this bill.

HB2595 was co-authored in the House by Rep. John Bennett, (R-Sallisaw) and Senate authored by Sen. Frank Simpson (R-Ardmore).

The measure now proceeds to the Senate.

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