WASHINGTON COUNTY, OR (KPTV) – Veterans in trouble with the law are now offered a pathway into treatment, thanks to a special court in Washington County.
It’s called Veterans Treatment Court.
It feels less like the criminal justice system and more like a band of brothers and sisters, sharing their hardships and successes.
When a veteran is arrested for a non-violent crime, they can get sent there instead of a regular court.
They’re offered different services, like therapy and treatment.
“Whatever the particular issue that might be impacting that veteran, whether it’s a mental health issue, looking for mental health treatment, if it’s an addiction issue, we’re trying to tailor the treatment to whatever that addictive issue is,” said Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton.
If a veteran completes the program, it can mean less jail time, or a sentence can be reduced or forgiven.
Earlier this month, Frank Demato, who is an Army veteran, graduated from the program.
Demato was arrested for drunk driving before starting the program more than a year ago. He’s also been battling cancer at the same time.
“Between the cancer and my legal issues, it’s been tough, and this program really has helped me,” said Demato.
He said the program is far from easy.
“We had to show up to court every two weeks,” said Demato. “Talk with our probation officer and depending what people had done, we had different requirements.”
But looking back, he said it’s exactly where he needed to be.
“I would’ve struggled,” said Demato. “I probably would’ve drank, probation violation, probably would’ve ended back in jail for a certain amount of time.”
That’s what makes his long-awaited graduation and completion of his own personal mission so special.
“Even though I didn’t know it then,” said Demato. “Now I know, this program is exactly what I needed.”
The specialty court started a little more than a year ago. Demato is the second person to graduate.
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