Colorado

Feb 26, 2010 8:26 AM by Matt Stafford

Protecting those who protect us

We've seen a lot come and go, and more trips are planned for Fort Carson soldiers this year.

"We have a lot of soldiers, sailors and airmen who have gone into harms way for their country, and they've suffered injury, says Judge Ronald Crowder, 4th Judicial District.

"We realize that as they come back, some of them have needs that sometimes are met and unfortunately sometimes are not," adds El Paso County District Attorney Dan May.

The leaders think behavior issues from some of the Vets may be coming from the service they've given. So they're working to set up a court specifically for Veterans, and many feel it's something El Paso County has been lacking for a while.

"Two and a half to three years ago, I represented my first soldier who went to prison," explains Public Defender Sheilagh McAteer.

However, she says when he came home; the Army and his community failed him.

"Today he's serving a sentence of 12 years in the Department of Corrections after serving 2 combat tours to protect my safety and liberty," McAteer explains.

Her hope is this that new system will put a stop to similar situations. For that, they're providing help, and right now that help is cheap because of grants.

"Currently this is self funded here, and a lot of it is done through volunteers," explains May. "It's not costing the tax payers anything."

The program is going through District Court, dealing with about 50 to 75 felony offenders at a time, but that's just a start.

"We're willing to expand it, I would have assumed that we would just start this in our misdemeanor courts, but the resources just aren't there right now," May explains.

They're optimistic that help is on the way. They say Senator John Kerry from Massachusetts is working on legislation to provide funding for Veterans' courts across the country.

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