As we enjoy our nation’s Veteran’s Day weekend, Clerk of Court Tara S. Green and all Clay County Clerk’s Office personnel salute the service and sacrifice of our community’s military veterans. Additionally, through a diversionary program called Clay County Veterans Treatment Court, military veterans are assisted year round in our local criminal justice system. The Honorable Don H. Lester presides over Veterans Treatment Court and is known for having a real heart for our military veterans and their families.
Veterans Treatment Court provides essential substance abuse and mental health treatment services to current and former military service members arrested for a criminal offense, in which a nexus between the offense, diagnoses and the veteran’s military service exists. The mission of Veterans Treatment Court is to provide a collaborative, non-adversarial treatment strategy for veteran defendants in the criminal justice system. Coordinators strive to serve a population of veteran defendants who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, other psychological conditions, sexual trauma, or substance abuse problems that are identified as service-related conditions and that manifested themselves while in active military service or after an honorable or general under honorable discharge. This program utilizes multiple interventions, including treatment and rehabilitation, drug/alcohol testing, regular court appearances and educational opportunities intended to provide the skills necessary to maintain a clean and sober lifestyle and to reconnect with families and community.
Veterans Treatment Court also provides eligible veterans with the opportunity to receive specialized one-on-one veteran peer mentor support, assistance in gaining access to veteran healthcare and benefits from the US Department of Veteran Affairs, and community supervision, thus ensuring public safety and accountability. A full program description can be found online in the Clay County Veterans Treatment Court Handbook. Clay County Veterans Treatment Court is held every other Thursday at the Clay County Courthouse in Green Cove Springs. All proceedings are confidential.
Clerk’s Office Veterans Treatment Court clerks work regularly with judicial assistants, directors of our circuit’s Drug & Mental Health Courts and with State Attorney’s Office case managers to prepare the court calendars for sessions. Clerks also work with sheriff’s office bailiffs to ensure incarcerated defendants are brought over for program screening. Clerks prepare orders, capias and memos required by Judge Lester and document the individual’s progress through each phase. Our clerks regularly express how much they value attending Veterans Treatment Court where they witness how this program, along with Judge Lester’s professionalism and compassion, impacts and improves the lives of many military veterans in Clay County.
Pictured here, Clay County Clerk’s Office members Sheree Hamilton, Director Michelle Thrasher and Zoila Perez-Frazier proudly assist with Veterans Treatment Court cases.