Veterans specialty court coming to East Baton Rouge Parish aims to help vets get back on their feet
BATON ROUGE - All veterans sacrifice something when protecting our freedoms overseas, but some struggle to return to normal life afterward.
At a town hall meeting Wednesday afternoon, Baton Rouge residents had the opportunity to share stories of veterans they know—and some of them are suffering.
"They come out of a system that is highly regimented and highly disciplined, and they struggle to get back into civilian life," Col. Joey Strickland, Secretary of Louisiana Veterans Affairs told WBRZ.
Veterans coming back into society can struggle with PTSD, addiction, finding a job, and some wind up in trouble with the law.
To keep veterans out of jail, a new veterans specialty court will begin in East Baton Rouge. These vets will have the opportunity to attend programs to help with any issue they have, as long as they aren't charged with murder or a sex crime. Organizers say the goal is to help vets struggling to get back on their feet.
"We owe a debt to those who have kept us free and the best way to repay them is to keep them out of jail and to help them with their struggles," Strickland said.
Michael Cushman was at the meeting to talk about a similar program at the 22nd JDC. Strickland says that a similar program in Livingston and Tangipahoa parishes has been successful.
That is why Strickland and 19th JDC Judge Ronald Johnson are glad the veterans specialty court is coming here.
Johnson tells WBRZ that veterans will have the chance to get rid of their charges after they plead guilty and go through the program the court assigns them.
"If they complete the program, then they have the ability to have that conviction set aside and then have an expungement," Johnson said.
The veterans specialty court is expected to begin in January.
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