East Hawaii News

Veterans Treatment Court Honors First Graduate

December 1, 2015, 3:28 PM HST
* Updated December 1, 3:30 PM
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The first graduate of the Hawai’i Veterans Treatment Court of the Third Circuit was celebrated on Monday.

Graduates are celebrated on their success in achieving a clean and sober lifestyle and the opportunity for a successful future. They are assisted through the program in finding housing and employment.

“I want to thank our graduate and the other Veterans Treatment Court participants for their service to our country and for their commitment to this program,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.  “Your faith in the program and your commitment to succeeding in it has helped to prove its worth, and has opened doors for many others who will be able to benefit from it in the future.”

There are a total of six veterans currently enrolled in the Veterans Treatment Courts in Hilo and Kona. The program began in November 2014 and has seen continued growth, according to the judiciary.

Defendants who are ultimately selected to participate in Veterans Treatment Court are military members who have served the country and who, at later times, experienced difficulties in adjustment. Some are faced with mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse.

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Veterans Treatment Court uses a holistic approach to provide the resources and treatment that the veterans need to get healthy, become employees, and return to being law-abiding citizens.

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Throughout the program, each involved veteran undergoes extensive treatment and counseling, frequent urinalysis, meetings with probation officers, and court appearances.

Funding for many of the services is provided through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs at no cost to the state of Hawai’i.

Volunteer veteran mentors who have an understanding of the difficulties faced provide support through the process of recovery.

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Ronald Ibarra, Chief Judge of the Third Circuit and Presiding Judge of the Veterans Treatment Court, recognized the numerous groups providing support for the program during Monday’s ceremony. Among the group are the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans of Foreign Wars, County of Hawai’i Office of the Prosecutor, Public Defenders Office, Hawai’i County Police Department, Friends of the Big Island Drug Court, and other veterans groups and community based treatment providers.

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