Treatment court helps veterans get back on track

Judge Kendall Kelley talks to veterans during Northeast Wisconsin Veteran’s Treatment Court. (WLUK/Gabrielle Mays)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- Third floor, branch four, the courtroom is less about highlighting faults and more about supporting veterans in need.

Army veteran Dennis Hibbard is in court for drunken driving and gives weekly updates to the judge on his progress.

"It's keeping me on track with my treatments and keeping me very conscious of my freedoms and how I don't have to be all alone," said Dennis Hibbard.

Hibbard is one of 22 veterans part of Northeast Wisconsin Veterans Treatment Court.

"These veterans have committed their lives for this country. Some of the problems that they've had have been enhanced by the going into the military whether it's drinking or drug abuse. They carry this hidden baggage and our goal is to unload some of that baggage," said Tom Hinz, Northeast Wisconsin Veterans Treatment Court founder.

There are rules when it comes to treatment court, veterans with sexual assault or homicide charges do not qualify for this program.

The program is broken into four phases. Each last three to four months. Some of the requirements include drug tests and mentorship.

"The judge is a veteran. The prosecutor and public defenders are veterans and the corrections are veterans. And, it's veterans pushing veterans along to make them succeed," Hinz said.

FOX 11 highlighted the program two years ago and since veterans treatment court started in 2012, 40 veterans have graduated.

"So far, so good. We had a couple that slipped but nobody has reoffended, committed the same offense that got them into this program," Hinz said.

Which bring us back to Hibbard who's proud of the progress he's made so far.

"I feel like I've come to a change from the inside which is where it has to start," Hibbard said.

If you'd like to become a mentor, call Tom Hinz 920-606-2012.

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