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Lewis J. Gregory, Judge

Greenwood Veterans Treatment Court

Proven program help for Vet’s fully operational

 

By Allen Watts – March 2013

Allen@JcCrier.com

 

 What happens to a Veteran once he or she gets into trouble? Who can they turn to? Who cares that they are basically a good person? Who will help them? Why did a good person leave home, and then come back unable to cope, and get into trouble? These questions are something that Greenwood Judge Lewis Gregory is determined to address and offer some answers.

Quote;

    “When a Veteran suffers a serious injury while serving our country, every citizen should feel an obligation to help that veteran recover. When brain trauma leads to substance abuse, the legal system should marshal its resources to help return the veteran to a law-abiding and productive life”, Lewis J. Gregory, Judge

    Judge Lewis Gregory has begun “Greenwood Veterans Treatment Court”  a program in which they have a Veterans Treatment program similar to the successful program in New York that has brought raves of excellence reviews for the treatment of our veterans who return from military   service with problems.

     It is run similar to the drug treatment program that Greenwood has had since 1999. However, it is gear specifically towards helping veterans. Also the program works in conjunction with the US Veteran’s administration and different Veteran’s organization we have in the community.

   Initially Greenwood was one of just twenty eight courts in the United States selected for participation in the program by the US department of justice. The city of greenwood was selected for training in May of 2012 in Buffalo New York state.

    Greenwood had a team of 10 people that were sent out to participate in training for this program. Training is necessary because the issues that Veterans have are a little bit different that everybody else has. In addition the training learns the team how to work with the Veterans administration. Working in issues of what they would need from Greenwood and also what Greenwood would need from them. The team also learned how to follow some of the requirements of the program

    After the training the Government had some specialist come to work with the team, and to help get the program designed and fine-tuned, Greenwood Treatment team went through all that.   

     Judge Lewis Gregory says, “Then the special day in Greenwood for our veterans came and on September 1st 2012 they got the pilot program implemented and underway”.

    The Judge said that at this point we were done with the pilot and knew it was what we wanted. We wanted to get started on a full scale basis. The honorable Judge Gregory says, “I am very passionate about our veterans getting help rather than going to jail and forgot about”. The Judge’s voice was confirmed and resolute about the program and veterans’ health, welfare and future.

    A veteran is special and gives their soul for this country and such a program that has proven benefits to our society and our veterans, is so much needed that it is far past due.

    The Judge explains that some of the legal issues that may come up with a veteran are not necessarily common for John Doe and varies not only in stature but the root cause.

   Judge says that many veterans come home today with problems caused by their direct involvement and contact with elements in war and in serving the military. Judge Gregory says, “Things nowadays are a little different than wars in the past. The main difference is that the United States has been involved in war for the past ten years continuously. Currently it is not uncommon for many military Veterans to have had multiple deployments overseas these days. Many deployments can run up to four, five or six times before they are allowed to come home. Whereas history of the United States in past wars like Vietnam, many veterans served their 12 or 13 months and then they came home and that was the end of that “So to speak”. So nowadays extended deployments are just one issue that has an tremendous impact on the Veterans and it also has an similar impact on their families”.

    According to the Judge war related issues and injuries have been overlooked in our legal system for decades.  We as a society now know about these things, that they do exist, are very real, have caused harm to veterans and families, and also have for a very long time.

So that issue now needs to be addressed in our legal system and our Veterans needs help not always locked up and forgotten about.

     The Veterans are coming home with a lot of Post-Traumatic Stress and also closed head injuries (brain injuries) among other issues.

    Judge Gregory tell us that one of the signature weapons used in wars nowadays is IED’s (Improvised explosive devices). These bombs have a direct effect on todays soldier.

     An improvised explosive device (IED), also known as a roadside bomb, is a homemade bomb constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action. It may be constructed of conventional military explosives, and then attached to a detonating mechanism.

    IEDs may be used in terrorist actions or in unconventional warfare by guerrillas or commando forces in a theater of operations. In the second Iraq War, IEDs were used extensively against US-led Coalition forces and by the end of 2007 they had become responsible for approximately 63% of Coalition deaths in Iraq. They are also used in Afghanistan by insurgent groups, and have caused over 66% of the Coalition casualties in the 2001–present Afghanistan War.

   Many Veterans work closely to IED’s and percussion grenades and landmines. The shock waves in many bombs can create a concussive effect to the soldier which can cause terrible and non-repairable damage to the brain, often know as closed head injuries.

    In addition, many soldiers come home looking for a memory of the past, and hoping or thinking things are the same as when they left, but things have changed. Not only have the veteran changed, but things have changed at home also.

   Coupled with the Veterans injuries-problems from military service, the emotional problems of coming home to things that have changed can cause unbearable stress. Sometimes Veterans turn to alcohol or drugs to deal with the problems. That in turn can lead to a Veteran getting into trouble.

    This “Veterans Treatment Court” is a proven program that helps our veterans get back on track and live productive lives once again. The programs gives veterans a chance that few have seen in the past.

   Today Greenwood’s Veterans Treatment  and not within the Court is running and fully operational. Often treatment begins when a Veteran in locked up and a professional team leader Mr. Mathews does interviews with Veterans while they are incarcerated as soon as possible. The interview is the beginning point that gives the team the needed information to know if this incident is a result of a veteran related problem.

    The team meets and determines if a veteran related problem exist. They gather information from the Veterans administration and other veteran resources, so they can create a recommendation for the judge on court day. The process is lengthy and not within the scope of this article.

    Once a Veteran is determined that he or she can benefit from the Greenwood Veterans Treatment Court, they are sent to there. Judge Gregory listens to the evidence and skillfully weighs out the options for the person before him. With the skill of a surgeon he dissects every aspect of the case and evidence. Once he has a full understanding of what happened and what he believes is why it happened, he relies heavily upon his team of professionals that have been trained to gather Veteran information and make a recommendation to the court.

    What happens to the veteran standing before the Judge is ultimately up to the Judge. Hopefully this person’s life is salvageable or he/she at the very least is worth taking a chance and invests resources to try to help them. That is what this Veterans Treatment Court program is designed to do. While the program is not guaranteed to give 100 percent success, the track record in places such as Buffalo, New York is impressive.

    The Veteran, if accepted into the Greenwood Veteran Treatment Court program, undergoes a program similar to the very successful drug probation program Greenwood begun in 1999.

    Jodi Rittman is the director of the program and has a very successful completion rate. Of course the success of any individual participant is fully up to that person. The program only provides the tools to help them get back on track.

     Nonetheless, graduation and completion of the program offers the person some hope at a better life knowing that … someone … here … back at home … cares about our vet’s! Kudos Judge!