Showing posts with label veterans court. Show all posts
Showing posts with label veterans court. Show all posts

Monday, June 19, 2017

Stigma of PTSD Lives On, and So Does Education

This is a really good article to read. "An unfair stigma for vets with PTSD" By Sol Wachtler on Newsday.
Fifty years ago, 550,000 U.S. troops fought in Vietnam. At war’s end, more than half of all veterans diagnosed with PTSD had been arrested — more than one multiple times mostly for drug-related crimes. Many suffered from undiagnosed and untreated combat-related PTSD and, tragically, many were issued less-than-honorable discharges from the service. For years, the military underdiagnosed and did not treat the problems and then cursed the sufferers with discharges for misconduct.
There were no Veterans Courts for Vietnam Veterans. Reporters only covered them when they were arrested, so no one really gave a damn. Really sad considering they ended up changing the way people surviving trauma were treated!

Great reminder right there that this is not new. It happened to Vietnam veterans when no one care, yet they were the ones who did not give up on themselves or any other generation. They fought for all the funding, research and yes, even understanding. 

This is the part that got me,
“There is a coming tsunami of . . . veterans who have been wrongly discharged for conduct that was, in fact, PTSD-related at a time when PTSD was not well understood,” Ken Rosenblum, a Vietnam vet and former Army officer who ran the Touro Law Center Vets Clinic, told Newsday.
Nice to be quoted but would be nicer to actually have someone mention it.

Still, as I wrote above a great article to read but putting up almost 28,000 posts on this site alone, plus the other decades of writing about it, most of the time, folks use quotes and don't even remember where they came from. Hmm, I wonder if someone used it before me? Then again, the research has been going on for over 40 years, so I wouldn't doubt it. Besides, there were a lot of people out there before I came along. I learned from them!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Community Steps Up When Veterans Need Help and Finally Ask

Help available for veterans often too proud to ask for it
Herald Tribune
Dale White
Staff Writer
May 19, 2027
MANATEE COUNTY — C. J. Bannister remembers the Marine veteran who stood “tall and proud” before her. “He was so humbled and embarrassed” to ask for her assistance, the director of veterans services for Goodwill Manasota remembered.

After eight tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, he returned to his family in the Sarasota-Manatee area. After three months, “his (Veterans Administration) benefits had still not kicked in,” Bannister said. If he could not quickly pay his bill, he told her, the electricity would be shut off at his home the next day.

As it and several other local agencies do every day, Goodwill helped that veteran and many others get through a crisis — whether it is keeping a roof over their families’ heads and food on the table, assisting them in finding a job or qualifying for VA benefits.

Sometimes, the help could be as simple as rewriting a resume, which Bannister, a former paralegal with the Air Force, learned she had to do. After she unsuccessfully applied for employment for months, another veteran helped her strip her resume of military jargon and convey her job skills in civilian terms.
read more here

Monday, April 17, 2017

Billionaire Pushes Veterans Court California Expansion With Own Funds

Billionaire’s transformation from real estate to criminal justice reform
San Francisco Chronicle
By Laurel Rosenhall
April 16, 2017
Almost half the counties in California have veterans courts. Hughes wants to see them expand statewide and has offered to pay $100,000 to cover half the cost of the study.
A cattle-ranching billionaire headed into Gov. Jerry Brown’s office the other day with redemption on his mind.

Redemption for prisoners who wind up behind bars because their own tortured childhoods led them to lives of crime. Redemption for veterans who bring home wartime scars that cause addiction and violence. And redemption, perhaps, even for himself — born into privilege, born again as a Christian, and determined to make a difference with his wealth.

“If you listen to the stories of the men and women who have been incarcerated, it’s horrible what they’ve been through,” B. Wayne Hughes Jr. said as he stood outside Brown’s office.

“And when you look at the amount of money we’re spending ... we’re getting horrible results. All we’re doing is making better criminals.”

Hughes, 58, was in Sacramento to lobby for a bill he’s backing to help veterans who have committed low-level crimes. It’s a noncontroversial bill with a small price tag, so his meetings in the state Capitol weren’t so much about making a hard sell. Instead, they marked one more step in Hughes’ transformation from Republican real estate magnate to Libertarian advocate for criminal justice reform.

The rancher, whose father founded the Public Storage company, gave nearly $1.3 million to Proposition 47, the 2014 ballot measure that turned nonviolent property and drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, allowing some prisoners to be released. He also helps fund a prison ministry and runs a ranch near Paso Robles that provides faith-based mental health treatment for veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress.
Hughes’ interest in helping the downtrodden began when he came to Christianity about 20 years ago and evolved when he met Chuck Colson, the former Nixon administration official who pleaded guilty to Watergate crimes.
read more here

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Tragic Outcome of Combat PTSD Veterans

Army vet battled post-deployment demons until childhood friend became casualty of his personal war
The Times Tribune
“To this day, I blame the military for my son’s death as much as I do Matt ... ” Jim Evans said. “I wish there was a way to indict the military. If they would have taken care of Matt when he came home, maybe we wouldn’t be in this position now.”
MICHAEL J. MULLEN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Kimberly and Jim Evans hold a photograph of their son, Mike, and grandson, Michael. Mike Evans tried to help his childhood friend, Matthew Gajdys, after his deployment.
Matthew Gajdys came out of the Army at war with himself.

After tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he returned to Dickson City in 2012 and struggled to return to civilian life.

He couldn’t find steady work. He was angry, impulsive and drinking more than a case of Coors Light every day. He started bar fights as a release for his frustration. His undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder made him a stranger to his wife. She kicked him out.

Homeless and hopeless, Gajdys was rescued by a childhood friend. Mike Evans opened the Moscow trailer park home he shared with his 8-year-old son to the troubled veteran.

When Gajdys moved in, his demons came with him.

Four months later, Gajdys was in jail and Evans was dead.
read more here

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Florida Veterans Needed To Mentor Veterans

We have the third largest Veterans Community in the nation. According to the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, there are 1.5 million veterans.
Florida is home to more than 515,000 Vietnam-era veterans, so it is very likely that one in three veterans you meet in the Sunshine State is a Vietnam veteran.
As for OEF and OIF veterans, read this,
More than 231,000 veterans from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom claim the Sunshine State as their home of record. Many are enrolling in Florida’s colleges and universities using the new Post 9/11 GI Bill. Others are looking for employment, housing, health care and other earned services, benefits and support. Florida welcomes its returning veterans and their families.
Don't you think it is time to stop taking walks to raise awareness and start standing beside a veteran needing support? Don't you think it is time to stop doing push-ups and help them stand up instead?

Do you remember what it was like coming home and finding yourself with the war inside of you going on and no one around to help you fight it? Ok, so then what is your problem now? 

I've seen so many of you show up for fundraisers and other veterans events. I've seen you open your wallets to donate to a veteran in need. You have joined veterans groups because of the brotherhood/sisterhood you still feel. Well, there are many veterans in need of your help. So why aren't you showing up to help them recover?
Florida veterans treatment court comes up short of mentors
Stars and Stripes
January 20, 2017

The Manatee County Veterans Treatment Court held its first session in Bradenton, Fla. on Aug. 6, 2015, before Circuit Judge Andrew Owens Jr. as a way to help vets who enter the judicial system get treatment and assistance.

But one of the stumbling blocks for the program has been finding enough veterans to mentor those trying to find their way back into society.

“Mentors are what make the program a success,” Chris Landis, Veterans Treatment Court services coordinator for the 12th Judicial Circuit, said Thursday at the Manatee County Veterans Council meeting.

There are only six mentors now serving all of Manatee and Sarasota, and about 20 are needed, Landis said.

An estimated 500 veterans enter the criminal justice system annually in Bradenton-Sarasota, and the veterans court is intended to assist those facing lower level charges.
read more here
Being a mentor isn't easy. It requires your time to help them go through the system designed to help them heal instead of being locked up like so many of your generation was. Most of the time, the charges they face are directly tied to what they carried back from combat and in the form of the demons we call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

They are coming home, much like you did, without a clue they are not struck as they are suffering today and can have a better quality of life. It takes you showing up to prove that to them by your example. Show them they really matter to you and SHOW UP AS MENTORS!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Miami Dade Veterans Court Helping Veterans Bypass Bars

New veterans court opens in Miami Dade
Miami Herald
David Ovalle
January 13, 2017
“This program will help a lot of other veterans, I was just one of the first,” said Lovette, who is now sober and studying engineering at Miami Dade College.
Presentation of the colors by a joint honor guard from Southenn Command during opening ceremony for Miami's new veteran court at the Miami Dade criminal court on Friday, January 13, 2017
Robert Koltun

Former U.S. Army soldier Elliot Lovette can trace his mental breakdowns — years of flashbacks, panic attacks and hallucinations — to the day a roadside bomb in 2004 ripped apart his Humvee during a patrol in Iraq.

Struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and drugs eventually landed him in a Miami jail, charged with fighting a police officer during a breakdown in October 2015.

But Lovette got back on track when he entered a fledgling program designed to help Miami-Dade’s large veteran population, hooking them up with specialized treatment, substance abuse rehab and even mentoring from fellow former members of the military.

Earlier this month, Miami-Dade prosecutors officially dropped the charges against the 35-year-old after he completed the yearlong program.

On Friday, Lovette celebrated the occasion on a grander stage, joined by judges, lawyers, mental-health professionals and the head of Miami’s Veterans Affairs healthcare office as they officially marked the formal creation of a Miami-Dade veterans court.
read more here

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Texas Judge Treats Veterans Like More Than Just A Number

Texas judge takes specialized court for veterans on the road
Associated Press
Claudia Lauer
Posted: Dec 31, 2016
"When I was accepted into the veterans' court, it was the first time I was treated like I wasn't just a number in the system," Ress said.
(AP Photo/LM Otero).
In this Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016 photo, U.S. Army Veteran Richard Ress, right,
speaks during a bible group meeting at his rural church in Grayson County, Texas.

ANNA, Texas (AP) - In the Army, Richard Ress survived duty in some of the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan, but on a July day in 2009, he seemed ready for his life to end in the back of a Texas police car facing his third drunken-driving arrest in less than a year.

According to the arrest report, Ress asked the officer "to shoot him and get it over with." He was struggling with flashbacks and nightmares associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, which went untreated during four months in jail. A few years later, in 2015, he got a fourth DWI.

"I knew I couldn't continue like this because I was going to die," he said.

That's when Ress was flagged for a program that aims to divert certain veterans facing criminal charges into treatment programs instead of sending them through the criminal court system. And rather than requiring veterans to travel to court appearances, this court travels to reach them in five counties near Dallas.

Judge John Roach Jr. said the court is a first of its kind, and he hopes it will be replicated in other rural areas without public transportation, where getting to hearings can be a challenge.

"This is not an easy program. I expect a lot, and I expect commitment. But getting to court, having access to the services, that shouldn't be the issue that prevents a veteran in one county from getting treatment available to a veteran in another county," Roach said.
read more here

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ret. Army Captain Court Filled With Duty and Loyalty

Former officer's courtroom is filled with a sense of duty, loyalty
Houston Chronicle
By Lisa Falkenberg
December 3, 2016
Davis, who struggled to cope back home in Houston after 22 years in the military, was the poster child for Carter's cause.

"That sense of loss was devastating for him," Carter told me in an interview in September. "For a time, he lived as an angry, miserable son of a bitch. But now, he is one of the most beautiful, inspiring individuals you'll ever meet."
First Sgt. Arthur Davis displays his uniform on Friday. Davis was out of the Marines for one year when he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He pleaded guilty and went to veterans court. Photo: Michael Ciaglo, Staff / © 2016 Houston Chronicle
State District Judge Marc Carter remembers sizing up the man before him in late 2009: a grim-faced, middle-aged guy with a U.S. Marine's bearing and politeness, but with eyes closed off to the world, skeptical of everyone and everything.

Carter, a retired Army captain, would explain to retired 1st Sgt. Arthur Davis that his court was different, that veterans got a fair shake here. That everything he might need - drug treatment, psychological therapy, housing assistance, employment assistance, a second chance - was available. He just had to want them.

Davis wasn't sold. He was new to the criminal justice system, and the only good thing he'd seen was another judge step down and thank him for his service - right after sentencing him to probation for an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Carter knew Davis needed more than a handshake. He needed the program that the Republican judge had pioneered in Harris County for veterans facing criminal charges.
read more here

Monday, November 21, 2016

Brother Speed Motorcycle Club Fighting Battles For Veterans After War

Local motorcycle club is taking the war to PTSD; SEICAA Veterans Services and Veterans Court receive donation from BSMC, Eastside
Iowa State Journal
By Alessandra Toscanelli For the Journal
November 21, 2016

Hook said he was inspired to champion the cause after hearing stories of those suffering PTSD, watching a YouTube video regarding PTSD and getting in touch with Idaho State University’s Todd Johnson, the director of the university’s Veteran Student Services Center.
POCATELLO — The Eastside chapter of the Brother Speed Motorcycle Club raised money to support the war on PTSD and used the funds from the campaign to help SEICAA’s Veterans Services this last October.

On Nov. 7, the SEICAA Veterans Services and the Sixth Judicial District’s Veterans Court received a combined donation of $3,000 from the motorcycle club.

Those in attendance were Sixth District Magistrate Rick Carnaroli, judge for the Sixth District Veterans Treatment Court; Debra Hemmert, CEO of SEICAA; Kale Bergeson, SEICAA Veterans Services Director; Shantay Bloxham, Operations Director of SEICAA; George “Woody” Woodman, Mentor Coordinator; Casey Cornelius, ISU Addiction Specialist; Andrea Hook, Vocational Rehabilitation; Scott Hook, president of the motorcycle club’s Eastside chapter; local veterans from the program; and fellow motorcycle club members.

SEICAA’s Veterans Services is available for military veterans who are facing homelessness or are currently experiencing homelessness. The program is dedicated to empowering veterans to overcome life’s obstacles and advocate for long-term self-sufficiency. Veterans often struggle with PTSD, physical health problems, mental illness or substance abuse issues and severe isolation.

One recent success story of the Veterans Services program comes from a 54-year-old veteran who wishes to be kept anonymous.

“Before coming into the program, I knew I was screwed up but I didn’t know how to move forward,” he said.
read more here

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Combat Medic Vietnam Veteran Grateful for Veterans Court

Vet court grad: 'I'm ready to embrace life'
Livingston Daily
Lisa Roose-Church
August 19, 2016

Brig. Gen. Michael McDaniel said the court is “building a new cycle” for the veterans, and it is unique to other specialty courts.
Judge Carol Sue Reader presents U.S. Army veteran John M. a certificate and coin celebrating his graduation from the 53rd District Court's Veterans Treatment Court. Graduate Aron B., a U.S. Army veteran, waits his turn.
(Photo: Lisa Roose-Church/Livingston Daily)
John M., who spent “many years” sober, found himself standing before a judge — charged with and eventually convicted of driving drunk.

“To this day, I haven’t had a drop to drink since I was caught on that November over a year ago,” he said to thunderous applause. “I’m ready to embrace a life without any type of drug or alcohol.”

It was a sentiment echoed by the three other men, who along with John, were the inaugural graduates of the 53rd District Court Veterans Treatment Court. They were recognized during a ceremony held at the historic Livingston County Courthouse on Grand River Avenue in downtown Howell.

John, a U.S. Army combat medic during the Vietnam War, said he was able to use the court’s services to identify his emotional problems and address those as well as his drinking.

“I love my country, and I’d do it again,” he said about his service. “We’re fortunate to have a court system that bent over backward to help us guys. Thank God it’s here.”
read more here

Flagler County Florida Wants Veterans Court Option For True Justice

Flagler County eyes court option for troubled veterans
Daytona Beach News Journal
Matt Bruce
August 19, 2016

Buffalo, New York introduced the concept to the U.S. when it implemented the first veterans court in the country in January 2008. That circuit billed its diversionary treatment model as a “hybrid drug and mental health court” designed specifically to help veterans struggling with addiction and/or mental illness
BUNNELL — Flagler County officials are seeking to establish a special court aimed at helping military veterans who run afoul of the law.

Flagler County commissioners overwhelmingly favored the idea of establishing a veterans court after listening to a presentation by Palm Coast resident Ed Fuller and congressional staffer Randy Stapleford during a Monday afternoon workshop inside the Government Services Building in Bunnell. Each of the four commissioners said they supported the idea.

“As a county, we need to set the example for our veterans that they are welcome in Flagler County and we will take care of them,” said Commissioner George Hanns, a Vietnam War veteran. “So many of them have problems. Post-traumatic stress is a terrible thing … It’s very important. I think it’s a great program.”

Despite unanimous support from county commissioners, the plan to implement a veterans court in Flagler has hurdles to clear. Stapleford, who identified himself as a military and veterans coordinator for U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis' office, told the commission that 7th Circuit Chief Judge Terrence Perkins would likely determine the court’s fate in Flagler County.

Sal Rutigliano, the county's veterans services officer, also attended Monday’s workshop and indicated there are nearly 13,000 veterans in Flagler County. Stapleford said Volusia has about 56,000 and St. Johns has close to 20,000 vets.
read more here
Also if you want to know why this is such a great idea, 
Jacksonville veteran praises drug court program for changing his life

Friday, July 29, 2016

Veterans Court Helping Veteran Stay Alive

A report out of Michigan on Veterans Courts covers the issue of redeployments and the increased burden veterans carry on their shoulders.
Bringing the war home

Suicide has killed more American veterans than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Veterans often return from combat tours accustomed to violence and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, Eling said. A soldier serving multiple combat tours has become more common than it was in previous generations, increasing the risk of mental illness.
Reminder on this part. The Army did a study back in 2006 on redeployments and found they increased the risk of PTSD by 50%. They did it anyway.
U.S. soldiers serving repeated Iraq deployments are 50 percent more likely than those with one tour to suffer from acute combat stress, raising their risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the Army's first survey exploring how today's multiple war-zone rotations affect soldiers' mental health.
The findings reflect the fact that some soldiers -- many of whom are now spending only about a year at home between deployments -- are returning to battle while still suffering from the psychological scars of earlier combat tours, the report said.

How a high-risk combat veteran is overcoming suicide attempts via special court
By Malachi Barrett
July 28, 2016

MUSKEGON, MI — When Dana Harvey talks about his experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, his warm tone becomes heavy and listless.

His voice drops deeper and sometimes trails off toward the end of a sentence. There is more weight to his words; each is carefully chosen and seems to sit next to him in the room.

Harvey joined the U.S. Navy at 19 because he wanted to do something that would let him hold his head up high. After he got out, the disabled veteran's experiences in war led to the lowest point of his life.

"I had become real depressed and was drinking a lot and kept having nightmares, like war dreams and night shakes," he said. "I had a little bit of survivor's guilt, they tell me. I guess that's true. I ended up attempting suicide. Actually I attempted it a few times. Six times."

The Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center taught Harvey techniques to deal with his depression, but he didn't stop medicating with alcohol. For the majority of his adult life, he drank to sleep, to stop thinking and cope with trauma.

In the summer of 2014, it caught up with him. Harvey blacked out and became unresponsive while taking care of his daughter Gwendalynn. He was charged with fourth degree child abuse, a misdemeanor charge that could mean up to one year in jail.
read more here

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Veterans Court Judge Lou Olivera Receives Award For Caring Above and Beyond

Judge who served sentence with veteran in North Carolina given award
The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.
By Paul Woolverton
Published: July 26, 2016
When a veteran with PTSD and serving probation failed a drug test in April, Olivera sentenced the man to a night in jail and stayed with him, too, to help him cope.
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — Cumberland County District Court Judge Lou Olivera has been cited by the North Carolina Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism for his work with a veteran in his court.

Olivera was presented with the Award for Meritorious and Extraordinary Service during a ceremony Friday at the Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, says a news release from the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts.

"The Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism presents the CJCP Award for Meritorious and Extraordinary Service to the Honorable Lou Olivera for his steadfast commitment to the principles of professionalism as evidenced by his efforts to go above and beyond the call of duty by his tremendous act of humility and compassion toward a troubled veteran in his court," said Chief Justice Mark Martin. "Because of his selfless efforts, the practice of law will continue to remain a high calling in North Carolina."

Olivera presides over Cumberland County veterans court, a venue that takes into account the experiences and troubles veterans who get in trouble with the law may have from their military service.
read more here

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

California Looking To Expand Veterans Courts

California May Take Closer Look at Treatment Courts for Veterans
Katie Orr
June 28, 2016

“One of the things that the study will look at is whether there’s opportunities for regional means of making sure that veterans have these services available to them.” Sharon Reilly
U.S. Army soldiers from the 2-82 Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, walk off the plane as they arrive at their home base of Fort Hood, Texas, in 2011. ( Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Of California’s 58 counties, 25 operate courts for veterans, including six in the Bay Area. They allow vets with substance abuse issues or mental health problems to be placed in treatment rather than prison or jail.

The state Senate Veterans Affairs Committee today approved a bill that would require an evaluation of those courts, with an eye toward possibly expanding them.

Businessman Wayne Hughes Jr. is sponsoring the bill and has pledged to pay for half of the study. It is expected to cost about $200,000.

Hughes, who runs a program for veterans at his cattle ranch in San Miguel (San Luis Obispo County), says many vets have trouble adjusting when they get home.
read more here

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Las Vegas DA Challenges Authority of Veterans Court?

DA Wolfson challenges standing of courts that help veterans
Las Vegas Review Journal
Keith Rogers
June 4, 2016

“For five years, it has worked great and there wasn’t any problems. Why now? I don’t know.” Judge Mark Stevens
Steve Wolfson, Clark County District Attorney, speaks during a news conference on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, at the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas to discuss ongoing efforts to prevent the sexual exploitation of minors.
(Jacob Kepler/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Other than judges themselves, few people know the virtue of veterans treatment courts better than Jason Brooks.

The 43-year-old Iraq War Marine veteran was among the first to graduate from Henderson Municipal Veterans Court with his domestic violence case dismissed and records sealed.

He’s gone from being a client to a mentor. Now he helps other veterans facing misdemeanor DUI and domestic violence charges meet the requirements of counseling, rehabilitation and community service to get a second chance at succeeding in life.

Gov. Jim Gibbons signed a 2008 law creating veterans courts; they were established three years later. Now, after five years, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson has filed papers with the Nevada Supreme Court challenging the legal authority for municipal and justice courts to host veterans treatment courts. He contends the law specified only District Courts have authority for veterans courts.

“It makes no sense. We have a proven track record that it’s working,” Brooks said Thursday. “We’ve been doing it for five years now and 90 percent of the cases going through are DUI and domestic violence.”
read more here

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Veterans Court Judge Reprimanded For Fight Too Hard For Green Beret?

Hillsborough judge agrees to reprimand for going 'too far' on defendant's behalf
Tampa Bay Times

Anna M. Phillips
Times Staff Writer
Friday, June 3, 2016

TAMPA — Hillsborough Circuit Judge Gregory P. Holder, who intervened in the case of a former U.S. Army Green Beret charged with multiple felonies, has agreed to be publicly reprimanded for trying to persuade prosecutors to change the man's sentence.

In a deal reached with the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission, which oversees judges across the state, Holder acknowledged that he "went too far" in his attempts to lighten the man's punishment, creating "the appearance of impropriety and partiality."

In addition to being publicly reprimanded by the Florida Supreme Court, he will have to complete six hours of training "on topics related to ethics," if the Florida Supreme Court accepts the commission's recommendation of discipline.

Holder did not respond to requests for comment, but his attorney, David Weinstein, said he was disappointed the commission had filed the charges against the judge in the first place.

"From my perspective, the JQC's action was not based on what Judge Holder was trying to accomplish or why but, instead, how he went about it," Weinstein said.
read more here

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Iraq Veteran Got Reason to Change in Indiana Veterans Court Program

Veterans Treatment Court saves 'tornado of self destruction'
Northwest Indiana Times
Joyce Russell
May 21, 2016

“I was a tornado of self-destruction,” Israel Toledo
PORTAGE — For the first time in a long time Israel Toledo cares — about himself, his family and their future.

“I never saw my drinking, my anger, my aggressiveness as an issue,” said Toledo, 33, of Merrillville.

He didn’t care about being arrested for driving under the influence. Toledo said he had about six arrests under his belt and knew he’d end up with a slap on the wrist. He didn’t care, at the time, about how those arrests and his behavior affected his family.

“I was a tornado of self-destruction,” said Toledo, a U.S. Army veteran who participated in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

That was until his last arrest, in Porter County.

“I understood I had a problem, but I didn’t feel I had the tools to deal with the problem. They talk to you and get to the bottom of the BS,” said Toledo, adding the program also holds the participants accountable.

Now, he says, he can look himself and his parents in the eye, thanks to the court giving him a chance to start over clean and sober.

“It gives you a reason to change,” said Toledo. “I discovered me.”
read more here

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Judge Spent Night in Jail To Support Special Forces Veteran

Judge gives former soldier unusual sentence for probation violation

CBS News April 29, 2016
Joe Serna during one of his tours in Afghanistan CBS NEWS

A compassionate judge sentences a veteran to 24 hours in jail, then joins him behind bars
Washington Post
By Yanan Wang
April 22, 2016

The judge knew that Sgt. Joseph Serna had been through a lot.

The former Special Forces soldier did four combat tours in Afghanistan over a nearly two-decades-long career with the U.S. Army. Through those years, the Fayetteville Observer reported, Serna was almost killed three times: once, by a roadside bomb, then again by a suicide bomber.

During a tour in 2008, Serna and three other soldiers were driving down a narrow dirt road in Kandahar when their armored truck toppled into a canal, the Associated Press reported. As water filled the vehicle, Serna struggled to escape.

It was his fellow soldier, Sgt. James Treber, who saved him.

“I felt a hand come down and unfasten my seat belt and release my body armor,” Serna recalled to the AP. “Sgt. Treber picked me up and moved me to a small pocket of air. He knew there was not enough room for both of us to breathe so he went under water to find another pocket of air.”

Treber died from the accident, but Serna survived. He was the only one who did.

A Gulf War veteran himself, Olivera was concerned that leaving Serna in isolation for a night would trigger his PTSD.

The two passed the time trading stories of their experiences in the military. Serna told WRAL: “It was more of a father-son conversation. It was personal.”
read more here

Monday, March 21, 2016

Veterans Court Making A Difference For Those Who Served

Veterans Court helping make a difference
Sioux City Journal
Nick Hytrek
Mar 19, 2016
"It got me in touch with benefits I didn't realize I was entitled to," said Linton, an Army generator mechanic from 1992-95 who was convicted in May of first-degree theft. Completing Veterans Court is a condition of his probation.
Tim Hynds Sioux City Journal
SIOUX CITY | Standing at parade rest in a Woodbury County courtroom, Nick Sampson tells a judge about the progress he's made in his treatment for mental illness.

He believes he's been doing well while on pretrial release since his arrest last summer on a charge of reckless use of a firearm.

District Judge Jeffrey Poulson agrees, so much so that he approves Sampson's request to visit his father out of state this summer. Then Poulson promotes Sampson, an Army veteran, to Phase 3 of the Woodbury County Veterans Treatment Court and gives him a military-style dog tag with the word "Honor" stamped on it.

The dog tag is symbolic of the work Sampson has done since his arrest. But the real reward, he said, is the alternative Veterans Court has presented him.
read more here

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Kansas Veteran Get Second Chance to Heal From Court

Kansas' First Veterans Treatment Court Convenes In Johnson County 
March 4, 2016

“This is not the easy path out. The person is supervised in some instances more heavily than they would be if they were on probation.” Dion Sankar with Jackson County's veteran court

The first Veterans Treatment Court is now in session in

Johnson County giving veterans options other than incarceration.
Kansas’ first Veterans Treatment Court went into session in the Johnson County Courthouse on January 13, making the state the 41st in the nation to start such a program.

The court provides veteran offenders a diversion track through the Johnson County District Attorney’s office and a probation track offered through Johnson County District Court Services. They also link veterans with programs, benefits and services for which they are eligible.

Court officials pay special attention to conditions that may have risen as a result of active military service, including post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, depression, and substance abuse.

The Veteran’s Treatment Court was spearheaded by Judge Timothy McCarthy of the 10th Judicial District of Kansas. In order for a veteran to be eligible for the court, their felony must be a level 4 or lower.
read more here