Veterans Treatment Court

Judge Melissa Blackburn


Location: (Click here for map location)
100 James Robertson Parkway, Suite 100
Nashville, TN 37219

Phone number: (615) 862-8320

Veterans Treatment Court: Find My Court Dates

In 2014, Davidson County was awarded a three-year implementation grant from the United States Department of Justice through the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The purpose is to fund operation of a fully accredited specialty court tasked with serving Nashville’s Veterans. During the past year, forty-two Veterans were evaluated by Veterans Court specialists and thirty-six were admitted into the program.
Veterans specialty courts originated in Buffalo, NY beginning in 2008. Since then, dozens of courts have been established across the United States to assist with the unique difficulties of our service veterans. Judge Melissa Blackburn of General Sessions Division II presides over the court and supervises its operations.
Through a structured program administered by the court, eligible veterans can find stability and new purpose to be a contributor to the community. Benefits offered to assist veterans include mental health evaluation, alcohol/substance abuse assistance and supervision by client specialists assigned to work on their particular needs. Veterans agree to participate as a condition of probation or on a diversion program for criminal charges. For the 2019 Fiscal Year, 92% of Veterans Court program graduates did not re-offend.
The court works in partnership with metro and state government agencies and mental health providers, as well as veterans outreach and advocacy groups. Together, they form a support system that gives eligible veterans an opportunity to address issues brought about by their military service.
Beginning in Fiscal Year 2017 and continuing in 2020, the State of Tennessee included funding of Veterans Courts in the annual budget. The Davidson County Veterans Court was fortunate to be one of the courts selected to receive a portion of the state’s funding. As a result of this support, 52 new veterans are receiving the assistance they need to return to life as a productive citizen.
In the new battlefields America faces, those in military service are exposed to warfare and experiences never previously encountered. Growing numbers of veterans returning from service face specific mental challenges as a result of fighting to defend our nation in an evolving and dangerous world. The methods by which we work to return them to full participation in society are crucial and the Davidson County Veterans Court is employing these new methods. It is the mission of the court to fulfill our nation’s commitment to the men and women who chose to defend our way of life.

The Veterans Court Docket is held in Court room 3B of the Justice A.A. Birch Building, every Monday at 1:30 pm.

Staff for Veteran’s Court:

  • Mark Winslow – Program Director
  • Michael Messmer – Assistant Director
  • Cynthia Nelson – Administrative Assistant
  • Erica Gehle, LCSW – Client Specialist
  • Derek DeSha – Client Specialist
  • Samantha Keeling  – Client Specialist