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April 11, 2013

Veterans Court honors first graduate

Floyd County hosts special court suited to service members

NEW ALBANY — Floyd County Superior Court Judge Maria Granger’s courtroom recently overflowed with people who gathered to recognize the first graduate of the county’s Veterans Court.

Susan Jones, 26, a member of the United States Naval Reserve and a student at Indiana University Southeast, entered the Veterans Court after she was charged with battery resulting in bodily injury in December 2011. Jones said the charge came nearly a year after she had served 11 months in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

While serving in Afghanistan, Jones said she didn’t experience any trauma that she directly relates to her subsequently getting in legal trouble and becoming involved with Veterans Court. She did say, however, the transition of returning to life in Floyd County as a civilian wasn’t easy for her, and even more difficult for others to understand who haven’t served overseas.

“Just being in that environment [in Afghanistan] you go into a whole different mode,” Jones said. “Your adrenaline switch is turned on, and it is like when you come home nobody understands it.”

Jones said when she returned from her tour of duty, she was disoriented by the lack of structure of a normal, civilian life.

“[In combat], you wake up a certain time. You know what you are going to do. You know when it is going to end. And, you know if something happens you got to be ready to go. You are kind of always in fight-or-flight mode — survival mode. It is hard to cut that loose when you get back home,” Jones said. “When you come home, you don’t have that structure. There is too much freedom [here], and there, it is, like, a given. You know what has to be done. There are no questions about it. I just don’t think anyone understands how it is when you come home. It is hard to reacclimate and readjust to civilian life.”

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David Bennett, Jeffersonville, is pictured at Riverview Village in Clarksville where he is undergoing rehabilitation after losing his leg due to diabetic complications. Bennett is a 1981 New Albany High School graduate, and was on the 1980 basketball team that finished the season with a 27-1 record.

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