Welcome home: Veterans Court celebrates first graduate

Staff Writer John Coffelt In the third-floor courtroom of the Justice Center, a small gathering of veterans, mentors and court administrators celebrated Tuesday the first graduation of Coffee County Veteran Treatment Court, a program that aims to rehabilitate former service personnel who have lost their way. Receiving the distinction is Corbin Rosetti, who has been a 20 months participating in the program. “Corbin quickly rose to the top,” said Presiding Judge Craig Johnson. “He has that infectious shy smile that makes people warm to him. But he has a good life story. He has turned his life around.” Johnson explained to the gathered that Rosetti has maintained a good job and has risen to a supervisory position. “He’s really helped this program prove its worth. I have great confidence that Corbin will continue throughout the rest of his life to continue to be a productive citizen and a good veteran,” Johnson said. Rosetti said that he was nervous initially, but that as time went on, doubt gave way to trust. “As I maintained the program and cooperated with it, even though I struggled at first, I come to realize that the accountability that the program gave me, helped me build on top of that. “If you guys (speaking to fellow Veterans Court participants) keep going on, you’ll be in this place. It’s a good place to be, because I’m a lot better off now than I was 20 months ago,” he said. Director of Coffee County Drug Court Foundation Mike Lewis compared the accomplishment to a homecoming. “We’re excited to celebrate the fact that you restored your family, you restored place in our community. We say, ‘Welcome home.’ ” Each veteran in the program is paired with a mentor, something like an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, the mentor is a role model Glenn Bennett was Rosetti’s mentor. “He made the choice that he was going to better himself, not only for himself but for his family,” Bennett said “He’s done that.”   Veterans Court gets its start in Buffalo Following the model of the first veterans court, that immerged  from the Buffalo, N.Y. Drug Court where the presiding judge identified veterans in his court who responded well when there were paired with other veterans to assist with their recovery, the Coffee County Drug Court saw similar situation here. “In the fall of 2016, the Veterans Treatment Court Team completed training funded by a grant followed by an additional grant in 2017 to visit the Founding Veterans Treatment Court in Buffalo.  Representatives from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services submitted a grant request on behalf of the Coffee County Veterans Treatment Court resulting in three years of funding assistance from the federal government,” Lewis explained. Other members of Veterans court are veteran and Judge Craig Johnson, veteran and Public Defender John Nichol, Assistant District Attorney General Jennifer Craighead, veteran and treatment specialist Everett Jackson, veteran and probation officer Andrea Cordova, Deputy Loretta Tankersley, veteran and Veteran Service Officer Gene Stillings, VA  veterans Justice Officer Amy Montgomery,  veteran and Veterans Justice Officer Rudy Ragnauth, along with County Drug Court Foundation Executive Director Mike Lewis.