February 24, 2017
SHERMAN, Texas (KXII) Oklahoma National Guard veteran Colt Floyd and Marine Veteran Kaleb Lacy were the program's first graduates of Grayson County in North Texas Regional Veterans Court Friday morning.
"It's no secret that the war comes back with you and when you're unprepared with poor coping mechanisms you make mistakes,” Lacy said.
After serving four years in Marine Corps infantry, including two tours in Afghanistan, Lacy totaled his Harley and found himself charged with DWI when he made it out of the ICU.
The regional veteran's court serves Grayson, Fannin, Collin, Kaufman and Rockwall Counties. It takes veterans out of the traditional criminal justice process and provides them with treatment solutions, supervision and mentors.
Texas District Court Judge John Roach, a veteran himself, drives to a different county courthouse every Friday to preside over the court.
“What we want to have is their civilian record match their honorable service record and by going through veteran’s court they can do that,” Roach said. “If they successfully complete the rigorous program the charges are dismissed and their records expunged.”
Roach said District Attorney Joe Brown is one of the many elected officials who support makes veterans court work.
"Our county asked a lot of them and they gave and part of what they gave resulted in some trouble adjusting we owe it at least to them to understand that," Brown said.
Brown said at first they weren't sure there were enough veterans in Grayson County to make the system work.
"It turns out there are a lot of veterans in Grayson County that could use the program," Brown said.
"It's just phenomenal," Lacy said. "It's a huge weight lifted off my shoulders."
Callahn Talcott, a five-year army career combat infantryman, was just completed Phase 2 in the 3 phase program.
"Learning how to understand a lot of the unchangeable experiences that I had gone through was pretty traumatic and it was a struggle. Without the veterans court I would never have been able to battle that enemy," Talcott said. "I would never have been able to fight that good fight. Without the assistance, without the support."
Veterans must be general or honorable discharged from the military and have a mental illness proven to be linked to the crime they committed to qualify for Veterans Court. Sexual crime and aggravated assault cases will not be accepted.
Roach said veterans are required to pay a program fee depending on their income, which goes toward the county their case is in.
An annual grant from the Texas Veteran's Commission helps pay for what the volunteered time and fees do not cover, mainly programs that rehabilitate veterans.
Any veterans who are interested in becoming part of the program should tell their lawyers to contact their local courthouse and get the process started.