MILWAUKEE — A program across the state of Wisconsin is working to help veterans stay out of jail.

Inside the Milwaukee County Safety Building is a courtroom filled with hope and second chances. Those second chances come from the hard work and determination of veterans and a whole bunch of people who care.

One Army veteran from Whitefish Bay who recently graduated the Veterans Treatment Court knows all too well what a difference this program can make in someone's life.

These days, meticulous puzzles that require patience and skill are a fun outlet for Steven. Steven is a veteran who served as an army medic. However, a few years back, he found himself in some trouble.

“Me and my wife got into an argument about finances and the way I was talking to everyone, kind of thing… it escalated and the police were called,” he said.

He was arrested and taken to the county jail, but soon after he was introduced to the Veterans Treatment Court, where his journey began.

“Finding the time for that and putting other stuff aside, it was tough but we needed to do it,” Steven said.

Through the program he was able to get into therapy and other rehabilitation courses, which is what helped correct his path. When he is asked where he thinks he might be if it wasn’t for this program…

“I don’t really want to think about that,” he said. “Not a good situation at all.”

Instead of potential jail time, he took the opportunity and the resources this program gave him and put them to good use to create a better life for himself and his family.

“The amount of empathy and compassion and humanity I experienced through this program, it gave me a different view of everything,” Steven said.

The Milwaukee County Veterans Treatment Court is a criminal justice  program designed to connect veterans with rehabilitation services to address their crimes and needs. The Milwaukee County Court and the Milwaukee VA team up to give veterans the best shot at making a change.

“You have to have the courage to join the military but you also have to have the courage to be vulnerable. That’s the most precious thing you could ever witness. To see a veteran to be so hard core and structured and then see them surrender to the process,” Milwaukee VA Veterans Justice Program coordinator Michelle Watts said.

Since the Milwaukee County Veterans Treatment Court started back in 2012, nearly 400 veterans have graduated the program; keeping a steady 78% graduation rate.

For Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Davis, she said it’s a process she’s glad to be a part of.

“It is absolutely rewarding to be a part of a veterans journey as they go through our program,” Davis said. “They realize that we as a team truly care about them and as a result it restores the veterans faith and belief in the criminal justice system."

As for Steven, the program has kept him from jail time and he’s now a graduate who is yet another success story in the books. There are nine Veterans Treatment Courts across the state of Wisconsin.

They are always looking for more veterans to help. For more information on how to get involved, click here.