CLEVELAND — Seven former members of the U.S. armed forces graduated from the Cuyahoga County Common Plea Veterans Treatment Court on Tuesday. Tuesday’s ceremony was the first time the event was held during the same week as Veterans Day.
The Veterans Treatment Court accepts former members of the military accused of felony-level crimes, with the cases referred to the docket by the court’s 34 judges, the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas said. According to the court, the criminal activity stems from lingering issues they may be dealing with because of their military experience.
Some of those issues, according to the Court of Common Pleas, include engaging in high-risk conduct, unemployment, post-traumatic stress syndrome, traumatic brain injuries, homelessness, drugs and crime.
Veterans in the program are diverted from the traditional criminal justice system and provided with tools that are unique to veterans, including being offered a mentor who served in the military, the court said.
According to the Court of Common Pleas, four of the members had their cases expunged and sealed.
The seven graduates were also presented with challenge coins and certificates for completing the program.
“Every year, we set aside a day to honor the men and women who have served our nation,” said Judge John Russo. “To be able to congratulate these graduates during this week truly speaks to the obstacles they have overcome to resolve these cases.”
Russo has presided over the Veterans Treatment Court since 2019. The court was formed in 2014 and began accepting cases in 2015.
According to a review by the court, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department processed 549 veterans in the criminal justice system in a single year.
The program lasts 12-18 months and participants can be transferred to the program at the discretion of the judge.