While most men and women who proudly served in the United States Armed Forces are able to successfully transition into civilian life, a few of them end up getting in trouble with the law.
A felony conviction wreaks havoc on the lives of everyday Americans, including veterans. Even if felony offenders do not serve prison terms, they are forever branded with a scarlet letter that makes it very difficult for them to get jobs and benefits.
In Nebraska, however, veterans who enter a guilty plea for a felony offense are getting a second chance thanks to a program crafted by a criminal court division in Omaha. According to a news report broadcast by KMTV Channel 3, the program is a sort of “treatment court” for veterans who are willing to participate for two years. To qualify for treatment court, veterans must have pleaded guilty to a felony conviction that could be reasonably dropped after successful completion of the program.
Although the program is managed by the Omaha court, the individuals in charge are volunteers from the community who serve as mentors and social workers for the convicted veterans. Many of these offenders have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder as a result of certain experiences they lived through while serving the interests of the United States.
This treatment court started operating in late 2016 and is the first of its kind in the state. Judge Mark Ashford presides over this special court, which currently benefits seven veterans. The judge explained to KMTV that he would like to reach out to as many as 30 veterans who may qualify and benefit from this program.
Now that the veterans treatment court has been operational for more than three months, Judge Ashford is aware of the significance of the program; after all, the convicted felons participating in treatment court are also men and women who put their lives on the line in the service of the country, which is something that should not be forgotten in all circumstances.
Veterans who enroll in treatment court and do not complete the program will have to face the burden of life with a felony conviction in the U.S.