Big Island Veterans Treatment Court Recognizes Its First Graduate

The Hawaii Veterans Treatment Court of the Third Circuit (Big Island) celebrated its first graduate on Monday, November 30, 2015.  The courtroom was filled with supporters of the U.S. veteran who completed the intensive program in one year.

From Left to Right:  Big Island Veterans Treatment Court Probation Officer Alika Querubin; Third Circuit and Presiding Judge of the Veterans Treatment Court, Ronald Ibarra; Veterans Center's David Willard; Keona Paahuli; Deputy Public Defender Wendy Deweese; Big Island Veterans Treatment Court Graduate Paris Marques; Friends of the Big Island Drug Court President Peter Kubota; Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald; County of Hawaii Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth; Chief of Police Harry Kubojiri; Big Island Veterans Treatment Court Coordinator Grayson Hashida

From Left to Right: Big Island Veterans Treatment Court Probation Officer Alika Querubin; Third Circuit and Presiding Judge of the Veterans Treatment Court, Ronald Ibarra; Veterans Center’s David Willard; Keona Paahuli; Deputy Public Defender Wendy Deweese; Big Island Veterans Treatment Court Graduate Paris Marques; Friends of the Big Island Drug Court President Peter Kubota; Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald; County of Hawaii Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth; Chief of Police Harry Kubojiri; Big Island Veterans Treatment Court Coordinator Grayson Hashida

“I want to thank our graduate and the other Veterans Treatment Court participants for their service to our country, and for their commitment to this program,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.  “Your faith in the program, and your commitment to succeeding in it, has helped to prove its worth, and has opened doors for many others who will be able to benefit from it in the future.”

Six veterans are now enrolled in the Hilo and Kona Veterans Treatment Courts since the program’s inception in November 2014.  The Hawaii Veterans Treatment Court continues to grow, on both Oahu and Hawaii Island (Third Circuit), as an increasing number of attorneys submit applications for their clients to participate in the program. The defendants selected to participate in Veterans Treatment Court are military members who served our country, and later experienced adjustment difficulties, such as mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse.

The Veterans Treatment Court takes a holistic approach to help provide the resources and treatment these veterans need to get healthy, get employed, and return to being law-abiding citizens so they may enjoy the freedoms they fought to protect.  Each veteran has undergone extensive treatment and counseling, which includes frequent urinalysis, meetings with probation officers, and court appearances.  Many services rendered to these veterans were provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at no cost to the state of Hawaii.

The defendants are also paired with volunteer veteran mentors, who have an understanding of the difficulties these men and women are facing and help support them through the process of recovery.

“In addition to our volunteer veteran mentors, I’d also like to acknowledge the following partners who have been instrumental to our Veterans Treatment Court: the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); Veterans of Foreign Wars; Office of the Prosecutor, County of Hawaii; Public Defenders Office; Hawaii County Police Department; Friends of the Big Island Drug Court, and other veterans groups and community based treatment providers,” said Chief Judge of the Third Circuit and Presiding Judge of the Veterans Treatment Court, Ronald Ibarra.  “It is this team approach that helps our veterans not only get the support and encouragement they need while in court, but in their daily lives.”

The program also assists graduates with finding housing and employment.  Graduation celebrates their success in achieving a clean and sober lifestyle and the opportunity for a successful future.

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