Above: Veterans Treatment Court mentors, a key to the success of this program, line up to congratulate recent veteran graduate, Roy Wright.
On January 26, Veterans Treatment Court, part of CSC’s Tulsa County COURTS Program, celebrated the momentous graduation of 10 veterans who succesfully completed the 18-24+ month journey to transform their lives through treatment, training, encouragement and recovery. This occasion also marked a milestone for CSC’s Veterans Treatment Court of graduating 200 veterans so far through the program.
The graduation was one of four ceremonies held each year to honor those who have successfully completed CSC’s rigorous and intensive therapeutic courts program as an alternative to incarceration within one of four dockets – Drug Court, DUI Court, Mental Health Court, and Veterans Treatment Court. This month, 63 graduates across the four dockets walked across the stage at OSU-Tulsa to receive their certificate with an enthusiastic renewed lease on life.
Lawrence Gilbert, Veterans Treatment Court team member and clinical director of Action Steps, spoke at the ceremony. “Prison bars will not fix the issues,” Gilbert said, who is in court almost every Monday afternoon as part of the skilled and compassionate mentor support group that helps veterans participating in Veterans Treatment Court remain strong and committed through this arduous journey of alternative court programming.
Much of the success of Veterans Treatment Court can be found in the support participants receive from a mentor. Approximately half of the veterans in the program are assigned a mentor to stay with them through their healing and recovery – as a battle buddy, a listener, and someone with empathy to give sometimes needed direction and accountability.
All Veterans Treatment Court mentors are veterans who volunteer their time to give back to other veterans in need. As Veterans Treatment Court participants graduate, they are ceremoniously given a coin by one of the mentor squad leaders. As they leave the stage, the mentors stand in line to shake their hand and congratulate their success. Many mentors have said that they get as much out of the mentoring relationship as the mentee does, and that both greatly benefit from the valuable, life-changing relationship.
Brian McFarland, Veterans Treatment Court graduate, spoke on behalf of his fellow graduates. His testimony was powerful – sharing with the packed auditorium the highs and the lows that veterans experience in the program, stressing the importance of staying committed, staying on track, and following the rules and advice provided by Veterans Treatment Court team members and mentors.
CSC’s Veterans Treatment Court is always looking for more mentors for our veteran participants. If you are a veteran and would like more information or want to volunteer as a mentor, please contact Julie Tucker-Trainum, Mentor Coordinator for Veterans Treamtent Court and CSC’s BRRX4VETS program, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Above: Brian McFarland, Veterans Treatment Court graduate,
receives his certificate from Judge Rebecca Nightingale.