Craighead County creates Veterans Treatment Program through court system

Craighead County creates Veterans Treatment Program through court system
For the past month, a new treatment program through the Craighead County Justice System has worked to reintegrate veterans into life as civilians.
It's a problem so many want to fix, that many are volunteering their time to help out.
Though the program is new, so many veterans are already involved, and there's talks of expanding it in the near future.
For many who spent years, sometimes even decades, in war-torn countries fighting for our freedoms here in the US, coming home presents a new battle.
"You can't expect anyone to go over there that many times and come back with their head on straight," Veteran Rush Nash told Region 8 News.
After spending 30 years serving in each branch of the military, that's something Nash knows all too well.
Nash, like so many other veterans, suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
He says oftentimes, veterans turn to self medication to cope.
"A lot of these soldiers reenlisted three or four times and then they get out with an honorable discharge and then all of the sudden they're doing drugs, they're doing alcohol," Nash said.
Nash said these veterans are doing things that land them behind bars. Now though, there are more options than just jail time.
If arrested in Craighead County now, a veteran can be evaluated and put into the 2nd Judicial District Veteran's Treatment Program.
It's something Craighead County Judge Marty Boyd explains could have helped many veterans over the years.
"If they do stumble, it doesn't mean they'll be put in the justice system and be a criminal," Boyd said. "There is a possibility, there is another solution out there. That's what we're looking at, to return that person back to being successful in society."
Similar to the county's drug, DWI and mental health courts, the Veteran's Treatment Program will target problems specific to veterans. Their mentors will be veterans too.
Nash is not only coordinating the program, he's also volunteering his time to be a mentor to the men and women going through the program.
"It thrills me to death to know that I can help one more," Nash said. "If I can keep doing that then I'm satisfied."
Nash and Sheriff Boyd say they hope this program provides relief to more than just the veterans too.
"For each success story we have coming through our treatment courts, that means that it's a burden off the jail, it's a burden off the taxpayers, it's a burden off the police and the courts," Sheriff Boyd said.
Originally, the county had planned to cap the program at 20 people. However, just a month in, five people are already involved.
Boyd said the need is so great, they might be expanding it in six months.
To become part of this treatment program, you do not have to be arrested first, however, Boyd warned that this a rigorous program. The group meets weekly and right now, those meetings are closed.
Nash said they are also searching for veterans interested in being mentors for those in the program.
Mentors will be heading to Tulsa later this month for additional training on helping veterans with PTSD.

If you're interested in becoming part of the Veterans Treatment Program, contact Nash at (870) 761-1921. You can also contact District Court Clerk Joe Monroe at (870) 933-4508.

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Copyright 2015 KAIT. All Rights Reserved.

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