East Hawaii News

Big Island Veterans Treatment Court Launched Monday

November 10, 2014, 5:30 PM HST
* Updated November 10, 5:32 PM
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The Hawai’i County Third Circuit launched its Veterans Treatment Court on Monday. An opening ceremony was held in the courtroom of Chief Judge Ronald Ibarra.

Ibarra will preside over the Veterans Treatment Court in Kona. Judge Greg Nakamura is the presiding judge in Hilo.

The guest speaker of the opening ceremony was Colonel Debra Lewis, who made note of the role of discipline in Veterans who struggle with legal, substance abuse, and emotional issues.

“Veterans understand discipline and those with legal, substance abuse, and emotional issues are the perfect candidates for structured programs like the BIVTC that offer extra guidance. We have a commitment and need to make sure we take care of our veterans. It’s also a commitment to the future generation who will serve our country and protect of freedoms,” Colonel Lewis said.

Regular court appearances, as well as intense supervision, are required of veterans in the program. In addition, it is mandatory that veterans attend treatment sessions and comply with frequent and random testing for substance use.

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These resources and treatment services are intended to help veterans get healthy, find jobs, and return to being law-abiding citizens.

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Veterans in the program will also be pairs with volunteer veteran mentor for support through the process of recovery.

“The Big Island community is committed to helping our veterans,” said Judge Ibarra. “As a specialized treatment court, we are collaborating with the Prosecutor’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, Hawaii Police Department, Department of Public Safety, Veterans Administration, and other organizations to give veterans struggling with mental illness and substance abuse a better chance at rehabilitation. We appreciate the commitment and dedication of these organizations, which is integral to the success of this program.”

The State’s first Veterans Treatment Court began on Oahu in 2013. The Big Island Veterans Court is the second in the state.

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