Genesee County's court for veterans to hold first graduation day - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Genesee County's court for veterans to hold first graduation day

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(02/25/14) - Genesee County's Veterans Court is getting ready for a first - graduation day.

Two men have almost made it through the year-long program. They are set to graduate Thursday afternoon.

"I'm going to hold the door open for them," said Genesee County Probate Court Judge Jennie Barkey. "I mean, how often does that happen? You leave the court with the judge holding the door. I'll hold the door and off their way they'll go."

Barkey says the program is for vets who, as a result of the service to their country, have suffered emotional problems that ended them up in the court system.

"It's not just a free pass for any vet," she said. "They have to comply with everything they're ordered, by me, to do for a period of one year."

Veterans can be treated for drug and alcohol problems and receive counseling, for example.

"Part of what they got to do to get there is confront awful things," Barkey said.

At least 10 people have not been successful in the program, according to Barkey.

One of the men set to graduate almost didn't make it past the first few hearings.

"He ran. I mean, he ran from the courthouse, ran home. Had him picked up that night," Barkey said.

Each veteran is paired with a mentor. Upon completion of the program, their criminal charges are dismissed.

The court is dedicated to Barkey's former secretary's son - Wayne Cherry.

"(He) really served his country beautifully. (Was) married, 17-month-old baby and completely lost his battle with PTSD and took his own life at 31," she said.

Barkey says she'll share some of Wayne's story at the ceremony Thursday afternoon and hopes others will understand there is hope.

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