Soldiers convicted of minor crimes are being given a second chance. Montgomery County is the second Tennessee county to offer a Veterans Treatment Court after Shelby County.
Twenty soldiers are currently part a program officials call far more extensive than probation.
"For the most part, the whole reason these people are in the system to begin with are because of injuries from serving our country," said Judge Ken Goble.
Hanging over Goble's Montgomery County courtroom is a sign reading, "Leave No Veteran Behind". In case after case, Goble said he's working to live up to those words.
"We're able to take people who have served our country and make them whole again, make them productive members of society," said Goble.
In the program, active duty soldiers and veterans diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury can take part to possibly have their case dismissed.
"We give them an opportunity to earn their way out of a criminal charge," said Goble.
Goble said for soldiers to be included, their charges are usually for victimless crimes like simple possession or misdemeanors. If the case is a domestic assault, a soldier getting in the program usually requires the approval of the victim. For at least a year, soldiers go through PTSD testing, unannounced welfare checks, drug and alcohol screenings, and regular group sessions.
"They just go through what they're dealing with," said Goble. "It's kind of a healing process to recognize they're not the only people going through this."
In court, case workers tell Goble how their soldiers are doing including their employment status. On hand are a team of 10 volunteer veteran mentors who walk the soldiers through the process.
"I get more out of it than I give," said Goble. "I go away feeling we've really accomplished something."
To get into the program, the soldier must have an attorney.
A graduation ceremony will be held next month for the first five people to make it through Montgomery County's Veterans Treatment Court.
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