Police officer honored for work with veterans court

A Columbus police officer has been recognized for his involvement with the Bartholomew County Veterans Court program.

Brian Kushman, a patrol officer who has been with the police department for 16 years, received a recent commendation from Police Chief Jon Rohde.

The 18- to 24-month program was established in February 2016 and is regarded as a second chance for specific types of offenders who have been adversely affected by long-term combat conditions. Bartholomew County Superior Court 1 Judge Jim Worton presides over the veterans court.

Applicants are screened and evaluated before they are allowed to start the program, which is limited to 25 individuals. Participants who are accepted into it are paired with a mentor who is a veteran.

Kushman served eight years in the U.S. Army and volunteered to become a mentor in the program.

The program, which currently has 16 participants, is considered a problem-solving approach that addresses causes leading to veterans being involved in low-level criminal behavior possibly caused by post-traumatic stress, brain trauma, anxiety, depression, chemical dependency, unemployment or homelessness.

Worton said Kushman assists case managers with issues that vary from helping them locate someone in the program and working with law enforcement when needed. He said Kushman has been able to develop a rapport with many participants in the veterans court program.

“He’s proven to be invaluable,” Worton said of Kushman.

Worton said that the program, which is changing lives, is expected to receive formal certification from the Indiana Judicial Center in the near future.

“I feel very blessed to be a part of a team that goes above and beyond the call of duty for our participants,” Worton said. “To see the progress of many of our veteran participants has been very uplifting.”

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com