The Cobb County Veterans Court will hold a graduation ceremony Friday for five participants, bringing the total number of former service members who have completed the program to 27, Cobb County Superior Court Judge Reuben Green announced Monday.
It will be the sixth graduation ceremony for the court which Green, a former Marine, started in 2014, on the cusp of a surge in accountability treatment programs tailored for veterans nationwide. The 18-month treatment program addresses issues related to post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and mental health through counseling, group therapy, job training and other services.
“On average, one veteran is arrested daily in Cobb County,” Green said in a news release. “Many of these veterans have sacrificed greatly for our country and are suffering from post-service issues that have not been addressed or treated.”
Green’s announcement cited data from the Department of Veteran Affairs showing that, nationwide, 39 veterans attempt suicide daily and 20 take their own lives. Of those, 70 percent did not have access to services that could have prevented the tragedy.
Green also has worked with the VA to address homelessness and other problems that former service members face in greater proportion. Green said part of what his court and the VA have in common is an increasingly holistic approach to helping veterans by supporting them with professionals in different specialties. For example, he said, a veteran may go to the VA center for a medical exam but then be helped with other issues on the same visit with a “soft hand-off.”
Veteran treatment courts are like other accountability programs in some ways, but also unique. For example, they assign veteran mentors to all participants to guide them through.
Soon after launching the program, Green said the mentoring program improved the veterans’ success rates, adding understanding and inspiration. “There is a shared identity that veterans have,” Green said. “It’s easier for me to talk to another Marine.”
Those mentors will stand beside the veterans graduating at 9 a.m. Friday in the Cobb County Superior Court building.