KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Four veterans celebrated graduation on Wednesday from the Veterans Treatment Court, the largest class ever in Johnson County.
The program was started in January 2016 and offers help and support for veterans charged with low-level felonies and misdemeanors, like DUI and drug-related charges.
By taking part in the Veterans Treatment Court, veterans can avoid jail time and instead be offered mentors, recovery support meetings, and therapy.
The veterans must also adhere to strict drug and alcohol testing and meet certain criteria to be allowed into the program.
Wayne Briscoe graduated from the program on Wednesday and said it helped change his life.
“It helped me work through my issues and made a better person out of me,” he said. “This entire program is a future that these folks can have that they otherwise would not have had the opportunity to do.”
Briscoe was drafted in 1971 and served in the Army.
However, he dealt with depression and PTSD later on in his life before getting in trouble with the law.
“Life circumstances have a way of catching up with you,” he said. “The help that I sought kind of coincided with some of the things I was dealing with in the courts.”
After being accepted into the Veterans Treatment Court, Briscoe said the program helped him get back on track.
“I got therapy for the depression. I quit drinking totally,” he said. “I went through recovery programs at the VA. I went through various programs and group therapies.”
Around a year later, Briscoe celebrated his graduation from the program.
On Wednesday, he said he planned on becoming a mentor for fellow veterans in need of help.
“Treatment is an option that needs to be looked at more and more,” he said. “I think it’s important that we get the message out that no matter what there are people willing to help.”
Seventeen graduates in total have completed the Veterans Treatment Court program in Johnson County since 2016.