Veterans Court Creation
Photo: Video by nbc26.com
OUTAGAMIE COUNTY, WI - Veterans are getting help from the courts in Outagamie County. Tuesday night the county board voted to create a special Veterans Court that’s set to launch on Friday. It will provide treatment for vets who've gotten into trouble, dealing with their specific issues and the law.
Outagamie is the ninth county in the state to provide these services for veterans.
"This is a population that is near and dear to this community, to this country," said Tom Nelson, County Executive.
Now the veterans who've gotten into trouble are getting some help.
"Many of these soldiers are unwilling to talk about their experiences, unwilling to admit they have a problem, they find it's a sign of weakness," said Jon LiDonne, Outagamie County Veterans Services Officer.
There are 15,000 veterans living in Outagamie County. If they find themselves in court, they'll have more resources to help with their specific issues like metal health or substance abuse, ones they may have gotten from the effects of war.
"This is one area that people believe is a smart use of our resources," said Nelson.
He said the new program won't cost any tax money; it’s just bringing all the players together for a diversion program.
Carl Abendroth, who was deployed to Kuwait, knows all too well how the military can take its toll.
"All of a sudden, boom, and you get ambushed. And you go from being calm guy to reacting to your situation around you," he said.
Many returning soldiers with legal problems are dealing with anger, or violence.
"These are people that eat, sleep and do everything with a rifle at their side," said LiDonne.
"It's hard to turn that off," added Abendroth.
The Outagamie County Veterans Services Office said about five military members are already set up for court on Friday. Coordinators hope vets will learn how to avoid conflict and reintegrate into the community.