Baldwin County starts Veterans Court

A special program began Monday in Baldwin County to help veterans with legal problems they may face when they come home from duty.

Presiding District Court Judge Michelle Thomason met with staff members Monday morning getting ready for the first of day of what’s called Veterans Treatment Court.

HOW IT WORKS

The court is designed to help veterans who get in legal trouble cope with problems they face:  problems Judge Thomason said often result from mental health issues like post traumatic stress disorder, or according to Judge Thomason,

“PTSD and traumatic brain injury, coupled with substance abuse, because they’re trying to cope with those disorders.  So, what these courts do is they provide treatment plans for these veterans that have committed crimes.”

Who better to know the problems veterans face, than other veterans?

VETERANS TO SERVE AS  MENTORS

Veterans of Vietnam and other wars will serve as mentors.

Chris Moore, a mentor, said, “The veterans may have made a bad decision, and we’re here to help them recover from that.”

The veterans who will mentor said employment is one big problem.

Jimmy Driver, another veteran who will mentor, said, “There aren’t the jobs in this country that they’re used to be. People come home and they’re idle.”

Mentor Tom Lane said, “When you come home, if you don’t have a home, don’t have any employment, you seek other options, and, quite a few times, those other options are drugs.”

Combine that with the stress of the military life, mentor Joel Nomberg said, “and they’ve found themselves lost, find themselves getting in trouble, and they don’t have a way to get back into society.

TIMETABLE

Judge Thomason said the court will meet every Monday for a year, and her staff will review the progress made by the veterans:  progress she hopes will be life changing.

Similar courts have been set up in other cities like Houston and San Antonio.

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