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Big Island Veterans Treatment Court Celebrates 4 More Successful Graduates

Posted on Jun 28, 2017 in Featured News, News & Reports

Big Island Veterans Treatment Court Kona Judge Ronald Ibarra, Veteran Mentors, and 3 Veteran Graduates.

Big Island Veterans Treatment Court graduation in Kona, June 19, 2017. Third Circuit Chief Judge and Kona Big Island Veterans Treatment Court Presiding Judge Ronald Ibarra (far right) joins Veteran mentors to celebrate the successes of three program graduates (center).

Hilo Judge Greg Nakamura, Veteran Treatment Court Graduate, Attorney Sheri Tavares, Vet Court Mentor.

Big Island Veterans Treatment Court graduation in Hilo, June 15, 2017. From the left, Hilo Big Island Veterans Treatment Court Presiding Judge Greg Nakamura celebrates the many successes of the program graduate with Attorney Sheri Tavares, and a Veterans Court mentor.

The Big Island Veterans Treatment Court celebrated its four most recent graduates with ceremonies taking place June 15 in Hilo and June 19 in Kona. Seven U.S. veterans have now successfully completed the intensive two-year program since its inception in November 2014.

“We have to treat our veterans better, and the Veterans Courts play a big part in trying to get veterans back to the condition they were in prior to the time they were deployed into military service,” said Third Circuit Chief Judge and Kona Big Island Veterans Treatment Court Presiding Judge Ronald Ibarra. “It’s only fair we that we try. They were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for this country.”

Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrably higher rates of co-occurring posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, pain, and substance use disorders (SUDs), than the general population. Often, these issues are compounded by family strife, unemployment, and homelessness, ultimately leading to incarceration.

The Veterans Treatment Court takes a holistic approach to help restore veterans’ health, families, and futures, while also saving taxpayer dollars.

Each veteran undergoes extensive treatment and counseling, including frequent urinalysis, meetings with probation officers, and court appearances. Many services rendered to these veterans are provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at no cost to the state of Hawaii.

A 2016 study published by the Community Mental Health Journal found that veterans who participate in veterans treatment courts experience significant improvement in housing, relationships and social connection, overall functioning and well-being, depression, PTSD, substance abuse, and mental and emotional health.

For more information on the Big Island Veterans Treatment Court program call (808) 443-2201.