County’s Veteran’s Treatment Court conducts graduation

COLUMBUS, Ind. — “I am a veteran. Thank you for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to be a proud veteran again. I am a veteran. I was a member of America’s military. I served the people of the United States of America. I was a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.”

These words were read Thursday by Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David, as he presented six individuals with a framed copy of what he called “The Veteran’s Treatment Court’s Participant’s Creed.”

The Bartholomew County Veteran’s Treatment Court conducted its graduation ceremony for six veterans who have completed the program. The event was held in the Commons on Thursday and streamed over Zoom for some audience members and one graduate who could not attend in person.

David, who served in the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and retired at the rank of colonel, was one of the speakers at the ceremony. The keynote speaker for the event was Columbus native Congressman Greg Pence, R-Ind., who served in the Marines.

“No matter what led you to this day, deep down, you know there was something more to life than a mistake or a bad decision, and that’s actually why you went into the military to begin with,” Pence said. “You wanted something more out of life. You sought out something braver, better and brighter. You sought a second chance here, after your service, and a fresh new start. That’s what led you to this important day.”

Bartholomew County Superior Court I Judge James Worton, who oversees the treatment court, said the program is a “problem-solving treatment course” focused on helping veterans who have service-related issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder or substance misuse disorders.

“It is a program that offers treatment alternatives that connect veterans with their earned VA benefits,” Worton said. “And even if we have a veteran, such as a National Guardsman … that was not deployed so they wouldn’t be qualified for VA benefits, we also have programs through local treatment facilities here that assist them as well. And the treatment is specified for issues pertaining to veterans, because they have very, very specific issues and needs that we try to address during the treatment program.”

For more on this story, see Saturday’s Republic.