The South St. Louis County Veterans Court has received a four-year grant that will allow it to accommodate a fivefold increase in participants through 2022.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance recently awarded the court $550,000 from its Veterans Treatment Court Program, it was announced Tuesday.

Designed to help veterans in the criminal justice system who are diagnosed with a mental health or substance use disorder, the court currently has a capacity of five participants. That number will swell to 25 when the funding begins in January, officials said.

The grant will fund additional drug testing, probation services, advanced training opportunities, research in partnership with the University of Minnesota Duluth and a half-time treatment court coordinator, according to a news release.

The veterans court started in an unofficial capacity in 2014 and earned its official seal of approval from the Minnesota Judicial Council in February. Sixth Judicial District Judge Dale Harris leads the program with a team of prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation officers, treatment providers, veterans’ advocates and other community representatives.

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