The Western Mass. Veterans Treatment Court marked its official opening at an event last month at the War Memorial Building in Holyoke. Hosted by presiding District Court Judge Laurie MacLeod, the afternoon featured remarks by Chief Justice Carey, Court Administrator Spence, District Court Chief Justice Paul Dawley, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Francisco Ureña, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gullini, and Mentor Coordinator Attorney Archer Battista.The program concluded with a 10-minute documentary about the Western Mass. Veterans Treatment Court by filmmaker Dan Lohaus. 

Seventeen probationers have participated in the special session since it began in November 2015. "Veterans fought for our freedom," said Chief Justice Carey. "Now it's our turn to fight for you."  

"Each participant standing before the court has someone standing behind them," said Mentor Coordinator Archer Battista, who spoke about the role of peer mentors in each probationer's recovery process. "This Veterans Treatment Court is no free ride. It's one-and-a-half years of intensive probation. As peer mentors, it's our sacred bond as veterans to do this for our own." 

Veterans Treatment Court Judge MacLeod with Chief Justice Carey and CEO of SoliderOn Jack Downing
From left, Veterans Treatment Court presiding Judge Laurie MacLeod with Soldier On CEO Jack Downing and Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey. Soldier On is a private nonprofit organization working to end veteran homelessness.
western mass veterans court court officers with court leaders
Among those attending and providing security at the event were, in the photo above, from left: Court Officer Michael Lysick, Chief Court Officer Michael Grabiec, Court Officer Tiffany Tyson, Court Officer Trecitia Dotson-Rudder, Court Officer Shane Gordon, Court Officer Raymond Fontanez, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Francisco Ureña, Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey, Court Administrator Harry Spence, Assistant Chief Court Officer Franklyn Torres, Court Officer Kevin McDonnell, Chief Court Officer Leonard Johnson, Assistant Chief Court Officer Dennis O'Connor and Chief Court Officer Debra Patten.
Judge Hogan Sullivan with probation's Mike Coelho
Director of Specialty Courts for the District Court Judge Mary Hogan Sullivan with Mass. Probation Service's Deputy Commissioner of Programs Michael Coelho.
judges at VTC event
From left, Hampden Superior Court Judge Mark Mason with Northampton District Court Clerk Magistrate Darren Alston.
veterans of the court stand for recognition
Western Mass. Veterans Treatment Court Mentor Coordinator Archer Battista asks veteran participants to stand for a round of applause.