“I am a happy man today! There are hurdles to negotiate and, I do not need alcohol to make my way. I have had a life of troubles, and alcohol was my crutch. Not anymore.”
“Over the past year I went from being homeless and hopeless to having a stable living condition and being excited for what the future holds. The resources made available through this court and the forum have played an integral role in this transition. I believe I am ready to continue this without the supervision provided by the court because I am aware that even though it is not there, I can still reach out to the people who are a part of this program for help if things become uncertain in my life again.”
“The Spokane Veterans Forum (SVF) is a great program. Due to the efforts of the SVF veterans are getting the help they need if it be Alcohol Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) instead of jail time. I have seen firsthand how the SVF has helped the veterans in the Spokane community with the classes they have at the monthly meetings as well as having community organizations like Vetcorps and Spokane Community College present to help veterans achieve their goal of getting into higher education, which could lead to a better paying job or a job in general. In my capacity as a Vetcorps Navigator stationed at Spokane Community College I get the privilege to not only help them apply for college and get into a program but also connect them with resources in the community as well as state and federal Veterans Administration.
Recently I was able to talk with a veteran who was service connected 100% disabled with un-employability about chapter 35 dependent education benefits for his wife and 3 children. The veteran was brought to tears when he realized that it was possible for his wife and children attend college due to the benefit. Since they are Washington State residents, they may also be eligible for a tuition waiver.
If it wasn’t for SVF the veteran may have never known that his family could go to college. This is just one example of the connections that have been made due to SVF.”
“I would never expect a Court system to be so rewarding. The monthly Forums are filled with volunteers who truly care and want to help veterans. It is a very positive atmosphere, filled with camaraderie. It has given me a sense of belonging that I haven’t felt since my time in the service”.
“My participation as a SVF Mentor in support of 16 veteran defendants during the past six years has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have seen that my efforts to develop relationship and to encourage and reinforce positive efforts has made a stabilizing contribution to these veterans as they struggled to recover from the debilitating symptoms of PTSD, TBI and MST, and to put their life on a positive track.
My experience as a veteran Mentor has been a “two-way street”. I have benefited personally by becoming part of the SVF community of veterans and by developing rewarding relationships with my brother veterans. When you guide/mentor others you are also healed.”
“Veterans Forum is a force for good, a forum for redemption and veteran’s support. Having been acquainted with the program for the past year, I am most impressed with the dozens of mentors who rehabilitate veterans who have committed misdemeanors in our society. With an incredible recidivism rate of less than five percent, the mentors are extraordinary roles models steering the veterans back to their past military core values. Backed by a focused and thoughtful curriculum, Veterans Forum is a shining example of smart justice which gives a second chance to those who defended our country living up to the motto “Leave no veteran behind.” Judge Vance Peterson’s inspiration, Judge Fred Aronow’s direction and Program Director Bernice Gutman’s stewardship has made Spokane’s Veterans Forum the largest veterans court in the nation. March on Veterans Forum, your success is an American achievement.”
“The VET Court is like a 5-way team: Myself and any Vet we’re given the opportunity to be educated, Vet Center, Forums, A mentor to discuss good or problem situations, a PO to mediate between attorney- prosecutor-court (monitor Progress) and a Judge to oversee it all.
Unlike other courts, this system seems to be designed to assist an individual instead of just awarding fines and punishment. My impression is if you’re sincere, the court is willing to give a person the chance to get back on track.”
“Being part of the Forums has been a game changer. With the lessons learned there and given the opportunity to go through Mentor Boot Camp was amazing.
I will never forget the names, faces and the memories of all who have sat in this courtroom over the 15 months. Thank you for being part of this experience.”
“I was lost on the wrong path, looking for answers and something to hide my pain and anger through alcohol. That was the wrong way.
The program has been a blessing in disguise. I had to hit rock bottom to see a much-needed reality check and understand the seriousness of my actions that impacted my life and my family”.
“I was walking through Hemmingson (new student union building on campus) a few moments ago and I came across this table. I read each description about a soldier who had lost their life. Most had PTSD and most had committed suicide. You and your group do such valuable work. Glad I can be a small part of it.”