The dedication ceremony for the first regional Veterans Court in Texas was held Friday, September 16, at the Rockwall County Courthouse. The North Texas Veterans Court is one of 26 Veterans Courts in Texas and the only one that represents more than one county. Encompassing five counties – Collin, Rockwall, Kaufman, Grayson and Fannin – and presided by Texas State District Judge John Roach, the state’s first regional Veterans Court serves as a pilot program for this unique model to assist men and women who have served in our country’s military.
“We couldn’t let a veteran, because of a geographic line, not have a Veterans Court,” Judge John Roach said.
Veterans Courts work to divert veterans with service-connected mental health or substance abuse disorders out of the traditional court system and into highly supervised long-term treatment solutions and supervision. Most Veterans Courts are operated by county, if at all. Although state law allows the set-up of Veterans Courts, it is does not mandate or fund them, making it difficult for smaller towns. The regional Veterans Court model is most beneficial in rural areas.
The ceremony began with the Presentation of Colors presented by the Rockwall Police Honor Guard. Senator Bob Hall, a veteran himself, served as keynote speaker Other key attendees were Thomas Palladino, Texas Veterans Commission Executive Director; Joe Brown, Grayson County Criminal District Attorney; Jimmy Petty, Grayson County Veteran Services Officer; Tim Hartley, Rockwall Defense Attorney; Kenda Culpepper, Rockwall County Criminal District Attorney; Greg Willis, Collin County Criminal District Attorney; Kaufman County Judge Bobby Rich, and Army Veteran Colt Floyd.
During his speech, Palladino reminded guests of a quote by Theodore Roosevelt that defines the purpose of the North Texas Veterans Court: “A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards.”