Greenwood, S.C.; November 11, 2015 – The Veterans Court Diversion Program for the 8th Judicial Circuit will now be operating out of an office in the Greenwood County Veterans Center in Uptown Greenwood as part of a continued partnership with that agency. The program will provide an alternative to standard prosecution in cases where the defendant is a United States military veteran who is eligible for Veterans Administration benefits.
The 8th Circuit Veterans Court Diversion Program is designed to assist veterans who have pending charges in the 8th Judicial Circuit, which encompasses Greenwood, Laurens, Abbeville and Newberry counties. The purpose of the program is to successfully rehabilitate veterans by diverting them from the traditional criminal justice system and providing them with the tools they need to lead productive lives. Veterans Court Diversion Program participants are offered assistance from fellow veteran mentors, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and veteran service organizations such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Wounded Warrior Project.
Carey Bolt, Veterans Affairs Officer for Greenwood and Laurens counties said he felt 90 percent of the crimes committed by Veterans were related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and that the new diversion program would help guide veterans back onto the right path.
“Our soldiers have seen a lot in foreign countries and in combat zones,” Bolt said. “It’s easy to pick up some bad habits in those places as a way of coping. This program will help veterans get reacclimated to living in peace after they have fought so bravely in war.”
Rep. Mike Pitts was also on hand to support the opening of the new program, just the third of its kind across the state.
“There are 22 or 23 veterans committing suicide every day,” Pitts said. “Solicitor Stumbo and Carey Bolt have put together a program that is a primary way of dealing with many of the issues our soldiers are facing.”
Solicitor Stumbo said he felt that the nation’s veterans deserved an opportunity to shed the demons of war and get their lives back on track. Accomplishing that mission, Stumbo said, requires a collaborative effort with other agencies to develop creative solutions.
“My office will continue to do everything in our power to honor the service of those who have sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms,” stated Solicitor Stumbo. “We are proud of this continued partnership with Mr. (Carey) Bolt and the Veterans Administration to creatively deal with the issues facing our veterans as they return home from their time of service.”
Veterans Court Diversion Program Director Bryan Campbell, who is also the Drug Court Director for the 8th Circuit, said he is excited to oversee the program.
“This program gives our prosecutors another tool to achieve balance between accountability and treatment for the substance abuse and mental health issues that are driving criminal behavior amongst some of our discharged veterans.”