Gibson County Veterans Court Holds Inaugural Graduation
JACKSON, TENN (WNBJ)-
The Gibson County Veterans court held its inaugural graduation. The court is one of only two standalone veterans’ courts in west Tennessee.
“Our program is designed to combat recidivism, combat jailing our veterans. It's here to help restore, to help rehabilitate and build up our veterans so that realistically they can be served in the way that they served us," said Veterans Court Coordinator Stacy Miller.
The four-phase program started eighteen months ago- today, they celebrated the first three graduates.
“They have had so many things that they have overcome that they have conquered. They have found courage and strength in themselves again," Miller said.
Veterans that find themselves in the court system can be eligible for the program, “You have to have experienced PTSD, military, sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, mental health or mental illness and substance abuse issue,” said Miller.
The court works to meet the physical, emotional and psychological needs of the veterans that participate.
Stacy Miller and others work tirelessly, “To be able to get their sentences reduced. To be able to get them diverted. Expunged. We just want to be able to be a service to our servicemen and women who served our country," Miller said.
“Gibson county has over 3900 veterans, and our program's not about punishment. It's about restoration. We want to serve those who first served us," said Gibson County General Sessions Judge Bradley Owens.
The veterans complete one hundred and twenty hrs of community service as part of the program.
Every participant in the program gets a veteran mentor called a “battle buddy.”
“So when they need somebody and we can't be reached, or if it's something that we can identify with, that only another veteran would understand, they call that person," Miller said. She added, "Maybe it's a text, maybe it's going out for coffee, maybe it's a ride to a doctor's appointment. But our veteran mentors are critical and a huge component of what we do with veterans court."
And Judge Owens has seen the impact this program can make, “I've just seen what has happened with our first three graduates, where they started and how far they've come and what it's done to make a difference in the lives of veterans who have served our country and served us so well. Just seeing how much it's helped them, it's just it makes a difference in our community.”
The veteran's court plans to make the graduation an annual