homepage logo

Volunteers sought to help veterans

By Staff | Mar 3, 2016

As Walter Chihara explained in a series on Vietnam veterans last year, the stress and horror of war can stay with soldiers long after they return home.

Some veterans – who put their lives on the line serving their country – can face post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, homelessness, self-destructive behavior and other serious issues in the aftermath of war.

Realizing that some veterans need help, and that fellow veterans and active duty service members have the best grasp of the challenges they face, mentors are sought for the Veterans Treatment Court.

The specialty court was established through a partnership between the Veterans Affairs Pacific Island Health Care System and Hawaii State Judiciary to support veterans transitioning back into society.

Veterans Treatment Court helps Hawaii veterans in the judicial system build positive and constructive lives while holding them accountable for their conduct.

Organizers are looking for veterans or active duty service members to serve as positive role models.

The role of the volunteer mentor is to act as a coach, guide and role model to support the court-involved veteran he or she is working with.

Veteran mentors encourage, guide and support their mentees as they progress through the court process and transition back into society. Another key element is discovering the veterans’ concerns and needs, so they can receive the help and services they need.

Veterans Treatment Courts have been implemented nationwide. If more mentors sign up, they can help more veterans.

The Executive Office of the President noted, “As Americans, we must keep in mind the enduring debt we owe our country’s military veterans. While news accounts remind us daily of the dangers our military men and women confront in combat, the serious challenges facing our veterans when they return home, particularly substance abuse and psychological health problems, often go untreated. Sadly, these challenges can sometimes lead to criminal or other destructive behaviors.

“The Justice Department’s most recent survey of prison inmates found that an estimated 60 percent of the 140,000 veterans in federal and state prisons were struggling with a substance use disorder, while approximately 25 percent reported being under the influence of drugs at the time of their offense. Many of these issues can be connected to the trauma of combat and other service?related experiences and, for this reason, require appropriate measures to address them. Veterans Treatment Courts are designed to do just that, by meeting the particular needs of veterans involved in the criminal justice system.”

If you are interested in becoming a Veterans Treatment Court mentor, call Serena Trehern at (808) 433-0328 or e-mail serena.trehern@va.gov.