JOPLIN, Mo. — It may not have taken place in a high school or university, but a graduation ceremony today in an area courtroom was just as meaningful.
The transition from military to civilian life can be a difficult one for returning veterans. In some cases it can involve chemical dependency and even brushes with the law.
Getting those who’ve served back on the straight and narrow, and staying that way is among the purpose of the Jasper County Veterans Treatment Court.
“Sadly, the man that was scheduled to graduate today passed away recently, but for the sake of his family and others in the program, they held it anyway.”
The family of Franklin Kroush were able to watch and participate in the ceremony through video conferencing.
“We started with about 3 or 4 participants and we’re now up to 13 participants,” said Ted Donaldson, Compass Quest Founder
Fellow veterans play a major role in helping participants like Kroush make it all the way through the 18-month program, and graduation can lead to charges against them being dropped.
“The Veterans Treatment Court is unique in that each one of the participants has a mentor assigned to them, and the mentor is a veteran outside the system that’s just there to act as kind of a coach, a peer, uh cheer leader, just somebody to encourage them to keep pushing forward,” said Donaldson.
“They obtain treatment opportunities to address whatever addictions they are facing, they also um are provided unique opportunities to obtain in some cases mental health treatment up opportunities to obtain housing and employment,” added Theresa McKinney, Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney
“I think anything that benefits veterans or anything like that, we want to look into and Jasper County was gracious enough to invite me today so I can observe how they do things,” said Dustin Johnson, McDonald County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney.