Veterans court graduate now serves as mentor

Mike Lewis, executive director of Coffee County Drug Court Foundation, left, expresses appreciation to Brad Nolan, a graduate of the Coffee County Veterans Treatment Court. Nolan now serves as a mentor for the Coffee County Veterans Treatment Court. Community members gathered Aug. 27 to celebrate the newest graduates of the veterans court.

Brad Nolan, a graduate of the Coffee County Veterans Treatment Court, now serves as a mentor. 

Community members gathered Aug. 27 to celebrate the newest graduates of the program, Jason Hagar and Chris Lyle.

Eleven participants have graduated since the launch of the veterans court, one of the programs under the umbrella of the Coffee County Drug Court Foundation.

The key to the success of the program is the dedication of everyone involved. 

Nolan is one of the people working for the success of the initiative.

A graduate of the veterans court, he now serves as a mentor, helping participants achieve their goals and successfully finish the program.

Nolan enjoys providing encouragement to veterans.

“I have been helping over the last two years doing special projects for the veterans court,” Nolan said. “I have been a mentor of the veterans that are involved.

“I do that because we are true band of brothers. Even though we may have been in different branches in the military and we may have had different experiences, the core values we all have (are the same).”

Nolan appreciates the opportunity to help, he said.

“It’s been a wonderful way of being able to encourage each other,” Nolan said.

He supports the participants of the program on “down days and on good days.”

“When days are good, we can rejoice, and we can put an arm around each other,” Nolan said. “I’ve enjoyed that I had others come alongside me, when I was in a (bad) place.”

Appreciating the aid he received when he needed it, Nolan is now happy to offer his assistance.

“It’s been a wonderful experience,” Nolan said.

 

Mending damaged bonds

The veterans court was launched about three years ago, with Coffee County Circuit Court Judge Craig Johnson serving as presiding judge.

The veterans court is a federally funded program though the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and it’s designed to help people who have served in the military and have become involved with the criminal justice system because of substance abuse or mental health issues.

 “We started veterans court about (three) years,” said Mike Lewis, executive director of Coffee County Drug Court Foundation.

The initiative helps locals who have served in the military and have become involved in the criminal justice system while fighting addiction and struggling with mental health issues, said Lewis.

“We are able to use some of the resources in the community along with resources available from the Veterans Administration to meet the needs the veterans have and to help get them back – not only stable, but to help them have the best quality of life they can have,” Lewis said. “Today (Aug. 27) we have two graduates – Jason Hagar and Chris Lyle.”

Lewis praised all graduates, and expressed appreciation for Nolan’s assistance. 

“Brad Nolan is one of our graduates from our first (group),” Lewis said. “He wanted to stay and continue to help, so he became a mentor. He provided assistance. He helps transport people to appointments and checks on people to see how they are doing.”

Lewis said he was happy to see the positive transformation of Nolan.

“He’s done so well,” Lewis said. “When he came to us, he was completely estranged from his family…now those bonds are beginning to mend.”

Nolan is ready to use his energy and focus it on aiding veterans who need support. Additionally, Nolan is now ready to refocus on his family.

 

About veterans court

The program was launched in 2016, with the goal to help men and women who have served in the military.

To qualify for this treatment, veterans need to have served or currently be serving in the military and have problems in the criminal justice system due to addictions or mental health issues.

The veterans court is geared mostly toward nonviolent offenders.

The program is similar to the other recovery programs, such as the drug court and the mental health program.

Probation officers handle matters related to probation, and the veterans court works with mental health and addiction workers who assess participants and determine the type of treatment participants need.