A new program in Pennsylvania seeks to give troubled veterans plagued with minor legal issues a second chance — and to help the returning soldiers make a “smooth transition” when they return from places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
A new diversion program established Thursday in Centre County permits military veterans charged with non-traffic summary violations like disorderly conduct or public drunkenness an opportunity to put those charges on hold while they get treatment. For those who successfully complete the program, the charges would ultimately be dismissed.
“We as a society need to help these young warriors make a smooth transition when they come back home,” Holly Serface, director of veterans affairs for Centre County, told FoxNews.com. “Now with our new diversion program, I am confident we will be able to intervene before any serious problems arise so these veterans can continue living the life they deserve after their honorable service to our country.”
“We as a society need to help these young warriors make a smooth transition when they come back home.”
– Holly Serface, director of veterans affairs for Centre County, Pa.
Veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder than those in previous conflicts, Serface said, and many return to find unforeseen hurdles like unemployment and homelessness.
“Oftentimes, veterans are reluctant to seek treatment for PTSD, which can lead to self-medication and possibly addiction,” Serface said.
District Judge Leslie Dutchot, who could not be reached for comment early Friday, characterized the Magisterial Veterans Diversion Court program — believed to be one of the first in the state — as win-win for all parties.