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On, Wednesday, October 24, 2013 six Veterans and one family member joined the long list of graduates who have successfully completed the Veterans Treatment Court Program. Several county departments and businesses work closely together with the veterans to guide them through the program, they include the 430th District Court, Community Supervision & Corrections Department, Public Defender’s Office, Veteran Services, and Tropical Texas Behavioral Health.
CSCD Supervisor Eloy Lugo welcomed the veterans, their families and the special guest who were in attendance for the ceremony. Felix Rodriguez, with the Veteran Services Office, led the presentation of the colors by the Army N.C.O. Color Guard and Probation Officer Hilda Veronica Martinez gave the pledge of allegiance. Deacon Rudy Sepulveda, from Our Lady of Perpetual Help in McAllen, gave the invocation.
For the first time the Veteran Treatment Court Panel extended their services to include family members of veterans. Mr. Lugo explained that in order participate in the program, the family member must apply and be able to prove they are related to a veteran. He said they plan to continue to accept family members of veterans in the future.
Before the certificates were handed out, the graduates heard from two special guest, Major US Army Reserve Ernest Aliseda and Hidalgo County District Clerk Laura Hinojosa. Major Aliseda was recently appointed to a six-year term on The University of Texas System Board of Regents by Governor Rick Perry in February 2013. He congratulated the veterans on taking the first step by joining the program and commended them for their dedication and perseverance. Ms. Hinojosa spoke to the graduates about the importance of continuing their commitment to improving their lives and emphasized that the community was there to support them in their next endeavor.
The certificates were presented by Hon. Ramon, Jr., Mr. Lugo and Retired SFC US Army Steve Harris. Each veteran and family member said a few words, thanking the court panel for their continued support.
The Veterans Treatment Court Program is a hybrid of a Drug Court, Mental Health Court and Sanctions Court. The mission of the program is to expand its services and divert veterans or their dependents on probation from prison by providing mental health and substance abuse treatment immediately once the need is identified. Since its inception in 2011, the program has had 5 graduation ceremonies and 19 participants have successfully completed the program.