Vets Treatment Court celebrates first graduates

Omaha, Neb. (KMTV) -- - With the success of drug court, a new rehabilitation program is celebrating a big milestone.

Wednesday morning, 4 veterans graduated from the first Veterans Treatment Court in Nebraska.  The 18-24 month voluntary program helps veterans struggling with service related addiction or mental health issues who have been charged with a felony.  The program many times includes drug and alcohol testing, meeting with probation officers and other veteran mentors, life skills, and employment.

Statistics say 95% of graduates of treatment courts in Nebraska remain arrest free one year later.

"Don't always just lock them up let's give them an opportunity to succeed and that's what problem solving courts are all about.  It's the best thing we can do not only for offenders but the victims because if there's a victim these folks have to make restitution and make it right for them," said Douglas Co. District Court Judge Mark Ashford.

Veterans had their cases dismissed and were awarded a gold dog tag, and commemorative flag.

Justin Polland says he served in the Marine Corps and was discharged because of PTSD.  In 2016, he was charged with 1st degree assault facing 100 years in prison.  He was worried he wouldn't see his daughter for the rest of his life.  Through working with his mentor and recovery programs, he made the changes he needed.

"I'm just proud of myself for making it through, hope I continue to make everyone who put some much effort forth before laying the ground work to allow me this opportunity i hope i made them proud," Polland explained.

Judge Ashford says there's 24 others going through the Veterans Treatment Program in Douglas Co. District Court and hopefully will graduate in the near future.

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