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Lancaster County Program helps veterans reclaim their lives

This is what veteran's court looked like before the pandemic. Now it's all transitioned to...
This is what veteran's court looked like before the pandemic. Now it's all transitioned to online and messaging platforms.(Madison Pitsch)
Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 9:00 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A Nebraska veteran said he now has his life back on track. This after graduating from Veteran’s Court, a program 10/11 NOW first mentioned early last year.

Chad Street is an Army veteran who spent six months in Somalia. He’d done 20 months in prison over five years. A year ago, he had just started going through Lancaster County’s Veteran Court. It’s a program designed to mitigate charges for veterans who are passing through the justice system.

Since then, Chad has changed his name to Kale. And that isn’t all that’s different. Street was just getting his life in order, right out of treatment, when a charge from Lancaster County brought everything he’d built crashing down around him.

“I had two options,” said Street. “I went with the one I could control. The Vet Court Program.”

Eighteen months later, he’s in a plain room at the Lancaster County Justice Building, facing a Zoom screen on the wall for his graduation.

The road to this moment was not without its detours, but court-appointed mentor Robert Holbert said Kale rose to the occasion.

“He’s overcome so much,” said Holbert. “I didn’t carry him over the line, he carried himself.”

In Veteran’s Court, Kale learned things like money management, got his driver’s license back and had time to really commit to being sober after years of struggles.

“I never thought I could make it this far,” said Street. “I’ve been relapsing on and off for the past 10 years.”

During the program, Street has moved back to Beatrice. His daughter lives with him full-time. He sees his 18-month-old son nearly every day and has repaired relationships with those that matter the most.

“I would say that’s the biggest thing that’s improved over these last 18 months, it’s my family and my relationships with my family,” said Street.

Kale is just one product of the Lancaster County Veteran’s Court. Right now, there are 11 in the program and 10 have graduated. The program started in 2017.

“We still see value in human beings even when they’ve fallen,” said Holbert.

Because of the phases of the program, Kale said he has been able to control how he has rebuilt his life. A luxury he hasn’t had in years.

“NOT much is going to change for me,” said Street. “I pretty much have my life set up the way I want it.”

An added challenge the pandemic had an impact on how the court operated. Kale said he went from seeing someone from the team a couple of weeks to zoom calls meeting with the court and his mentor, Bob.

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