Veteran's Court gives veterans a second chance at life
Every Wednesday, 10 men and women face a judge in Lancaster County's Veteran's Court. This court is not like typical legal proceedings; this court is meant to give those who served in the United State's Armed Forces a second chance at life. One of those people is Chad Street.
"I had never had any mental health issues," said Street. He never expected to be an addict. He'd had a normal childhood in West Virginia, mostly spent playing sports. After joining the Army, he was deployed to Somalia for six months. "Even before I got out, I got depressed, I didn't know what I wanted to do at all and I started self-medicating."
His self-medication cost him 20 months in prison that was spread out over 5 years."I didn't want to face anything," said Street. "I didn't have the strength to pull myself out of my rut on my own."
After several run-ins with the law, Street was offered a chance to go to Veteran's Court in Lancaster County.
"I've been on probation before, and never have I felt like there was this much support," said Street. "They want you to succeed."
Veteran's Court is a 5-stage program that typically runs 18-24 months. Each veteran gets a mentor and with that, a support network.
"I think having goals, and knowing that you have a support network to help support you getting those goals, makes it a lot easier to getting those goals," said Bob Holbert, Street's mentor. Holbert, also a veteran, said this would have also benefitted him as he transitioned out of
This program has been happening in Lancaster County Courts for 2 and a half years. Nationwide, these programs are growing in popularity.
"We as the government put them in that situation, and they should not have to suffer for something that we caused them to go through," said Jim Cada, an attorney that helped bring Veteran's Court to Lincoln. Currently, the Veteran's Court can only serve 10 people at a time, meaning veterans are waiting in line. Cada said if they want to add more people, they need more funding.
For Street, life is starting to look up now that he's been in Veteran's Court. Said Street:
"Opportunities are endless for me, and I'm motivated."