RIVERSIDE, Calif. - One of the most beautiful historic courthouses in all of California is in Riverside. But inside Deptarment One, they are not hearing criminal cases, they are giving Southern California veterans a second chance. 

It is a special day…graduation…a time to reflect, to celebrate, and to look forward to all the future holds.

For Raymond Archebeque, it’s about the journey. 

"For many veterans, like myself, it's hard to adjust once you leave the military and all I did was work, work, work, until it became a substance abuse problem just to get by," he said.

His buddies called him Archie in the Marine corps…three decades of serving his country… once he was home, another battle secretly brewed for years.

Just before hitting rock bottom, he entered a treatment program that catered specifically to veterans. It saved his life.   

"I was spinning out of control and it's a miracle the someone including myself didn't die," Archebeque said.  

Veterans Court is a diversion program that allows former military members with mental health and substance abuse problems to get the help they need as an alternative to incarceration.

Judge Mark Johnson oversees the program. He’s a colonel in the Army Reserves, veteran of the Iraq war and somewhat sympathetic to those who appear before him.

"I want each of you in the this court to look around, don't forget the faces of your fellow veterans and always be supportive," said Judge Johnson.

For 18 months, Archie stayed in the program. He got counseling, help for his addictions and PTSD. He not only graduated, but was invited to speak in front of 200 people at the ceremony. He bluntly challenged fellow vets to look deep inside themselves and not be afraid to ask for help. 

Support was immense at graduation: Superior Court judges, local council members, County Supervisor Karen Spiegel and U.S. Congressman Mark Takano applauded the group, calling them heroes. 

Volunteer veteran mentors also assist the participants. The recidivism rate for veterans court is just 13 percent.

Thanks to Veterans Court, Archie says he’s got his life back together and is grateful to have been given a second chance.