It’s Wednesday morning at the Clark County courthouse in Vancouver, Wash., and Navy veteran Eric Vance stands before the district court judge. Appearing in the middle of the day’s hurried docket, Vance requests that two bench warrants stemming from a DUII charge be quashed in exchange for his application to the county’s veterans treatment court.
Down the hall, retired Army command sergeant major Norm Hayes is finishing his monthly check-in with the veterans court. There is nothing hurried in this courtroom. Along with a dozen or so other veterans, Hayes appears before the judge to talk about how treatment is going. The meetings are going well. He even went on a weekend trip recently. When Hayes is finished, the judge — who greets each of the court’s participants by first name — steps down from behind his bench to present Hayes with a court mug as the room fills with applause. Continue reading