As Californians and Americans, we should be doing everything possible to honor and support our veterans – men and women who lay their lives on the line for us on the field of battle.

Sadly, many of them return from some sort of international conflict to face a conflict of their own: Post-Traumatic Stress, or PTS. To make matters worse, our society either ignores or doesn’t sufficiently give them the attention and care they need and deserve upon their return, and many fall into trouble with the law.

Consider these startling numbers, according to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics:

* 81% of all justice-involved veterans had a substance abuse problem prior to incarceration
* 35% were suffering from alcohol dependency
* 23% were homeless at some point in the prior year
* 25% were identified as mentally ill

The most terrible statistic of all: according to the Veterans Administration, 22 veterans commit suicide in the United States every day.

Many of our brave service men and women do fine and are able to adjust to civilian life upon return, but tragically, many do not. I cannot condone a society that “gives a pass” to lawbreakers, but I do believe that we should afford those with PTS and other related disorders a pathway to recovery and rehabilitation. The “lock em up” mentality does nothing to get them – and their families — back on track.

That’s why I’m so impressed with the success of a relatively new solution to this problem that is helping get veterans on the right track and offering a viable, responsible means of criminal justice reform – Veterans’ Treatment Courts. Founded by a New York judge in 2008 who saw an uptick in veterans with low-level offenses, these courts involve collaboration and coordination with traditional and non-traditional partners to give veterans a combination of therapeutic treatment, social services and judicial oversight. The veterans must abide by the strict guidelines, and if they don’t their cases are returned to the regular court docket.

The good news: veterans’ courts are working, with a 98 percent national success rate.

The bad news: there are still many California counties – 30 of our 58 – without any form of veterans’ court services or resources. We’re basically leaving veterans in the majority of the state without the vital resources that are helping so many others to recover and reintegrate. That’s just wrong!

That’s why I’m encouraging my colleagues in the Legislature and Governor Brown to support AB 1672, my legislation that will commission a one-year study by the Judicial Council of California to look at the potential impact of veterans’ courts across the state and evaluate the feasibility of using technology, such as video conferencing, to allow deficient counties to benefit from resources in counties that have them.

I’m grateful to have as the sponsor of AB 1672, philanthropist B. Wayne Hughes Jr., founder of the SkyRose Ranch in San Miguel, which has provided rehabilitation services to scores of returning soldiers diagnosed with PTS. Mr. Hughes has generously agreed to fund half of the study that would be commissioned through this legislation, another shining example of his passion and commitment to helping serve those who have bravely served us.

We owe it to our men and women in uniform, those who have laid their lives down for us, to make sure they too have a brighter tomorrow.