Veteran graduates from unique treatment program

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Photo above: Solicitor Duffie Stone presents former Army Spc. German Batista a certificate of completion from the Veterans Treatment Court on Sept. 20 as Judge Erin Dean looks on.

The first person graduated recently from Veterans Treatment Court, a unique program that seeks to help veterans with substance abuse and/or mental health issues who are caught up in the criminal justice system.

Former Army Spc. German Batista, 52, of Hilton Head Island, successfully completed the treatment court program over the course of 10 months.

The Veterans Treatment Court assists combat veterans who have had brushes with the criminal justice system due to substance abuse and/or a mental health disorder. The three-phase program provides the treatment and structure they need to resume productive lives.

Batista was recommended for the program following a drug possession charge. He underwent treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and drug and alcohol counseling. He regularly appeared before a judge and underwent random drug screenings.

Batista was born in Panama and became a permanent U.S. resident in 1986. Two years later, Batista enlisted in the U.S. Army and served as a tactical helicopter repairman on Black Hawks.

In 1991, Batista stepped on an IED while traveling in a convoy in Iraq. Shrapnel struck his legs, thighs and hands, resulting in lifelong physical and mental problems.

He earned a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars for his bravery and combat heroism. He was honorably discharged from the military in 1996.

His treatment team consisted of professionals from the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, the Veterans Administration, Beaufort County Alcohol and Drug Department, a volunteer mentor and many others.

Studies have shown that veterans’ treatment courts work by increasing the quality of life for the veteran and reducing the rate of jail recidivism. The “goal is to serve those who have already served our country,” according to the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

To learn more about the Veterans Treatment Court, call Program Director Michael Lee at 843-255-5908 or email mlee@bcgov.net.