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."