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Bartholomew County Superior Court Judge James Worton, left, greets Troy Smith, center, and Pat Riley with Justice for Vets National Mentor Corps, before the June 27 graduation ceremony for veterans in the Bartholomew County Veterans Court program at YES Cinema in Columbus. Four veterans graduated from the program. This was first graduation ceremony for the court since it was established a year ago.

Men and women who serve in a branch of the United States military do so because they believe in serving their country and protecting it and its freedoms.

That’s honorable, especially because their service also involves sacrifices.

For what veterans do to help the country, its citizens should extend a helping hand in return. Fortunately, that is happening in Bartholomew County with the creation of its Veterans Court.

The court, which began in February 2016, is an 18- to 24-month, intensive second-chance program geared toward helping veterans turn away from lingering after-effects of combat. Sometimes the after-effects result in veterans committing crimes.

The program requires multiple steps to be completed, starting with pleading guilty to the crimes one has committed, and including regular risk assessments with a variety of professionals.

Veterans Court focuses on addressing the root causes that lead to crimes, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, brain trauma, anxiety, depression, chemical dependency, unemployment and homelessness.

Completing the program could mean the dismissal of one’s charges, receiving after-care support and access to resources.

It’s great to see that the new Bartholomew County Veterans Court is off to a successful start, with four military veterans who had minor brushes with the law graduating from the program. They were honored during a ceremony June 27 at YES Cinema in Columbus, and earned the praise of Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David, a Columbus native and military veteran, who gave the keynote speech.

The local Veterans Court, overseen by Bartholomew Superior 1 Judge Jim Worton, can handle a maximum of 25 veterans at a time. Currently 10 are in the program, and six applications are pending.

U.S. citizens owe a lot to its military veterans. Providing them a second chance when they are having trouble is one way to help. The Bartholomew County Veterans Court already is demonstrating how beneficial that opportunity can be.