SELLERSBURG — The Ogle Hall auditorium at Ivy Tech’s Sellersburg campus was packed Tuesday to honor the new graduates of Veterans Court of Southern Indiana.
The court is a specialized system that helps veterans who’ve become involved with the court system get treatment for addiction or mental illness.
Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush was in attendance at the event.
The gathering honored Indiana National Guard member Garel Blanchard; U.S. Air Force veteran Patience Rosen; U.S. Army Veteran Myron Conley; U.S. Navy veteran Steven Smith; U.S. Army veteran Dereck Hamblin, U.S. Air Force veteran Ronald Tolbert and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Ruben O’Neal.
Graduates from Washington County also were honored. They are Army veterans Dalton Moore and Christopher Adamson, Army Reserves veteran Raymond Pavey and Marine Corps veteran Israel Lozano.
“There are tears of happiness, there are tears of pride, there are tears of joy,” said Clark Circuit Court 4 Judge Vicki Carmichael. “I am so proud of all the graduates and the work they’ve done.”
The court also celebrated its 10th anniversary on Tuesday.
Established in 2011 and then certified in the Office of Court Services in January 2012 the court helps veterans.
Participants are required to have regular court appearances in front of the Hon. Maria D. Granger, supervising Judge of the Floyd County Veterans Court, or the Hon. Andrew Adams, supervising Judge of the Clark County Veterans Court.
All members are required to complete a treatment plan that starts when veterans first appear in court.
Veterans were joined on stage with their mentors as they received diplomas.
Rosen spoke to the crowd about her time in Veterans Court, saying although she’s never been involved with the justice system, nor has she dealt with addiction, the other graduates helped her fit in, leading her to success.
“When they helped me fit in, that’s when I changed,” she said. “I saw the commonalities in all of us, we were all so eager to do better.”
While being involved in the program Rosen was able to meet with doctors and was diagnosed with severe obsessive compulsive disorder. She said that changed her life.
“Today a group of veterans will end a long-read chapter in their personal books, while simultaneously beginning their rebranding chapter,” she said. “Today you see a healthier, happier, more productive group of individuals who found their sense of purpose again.”