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A courtroom created to offer assistance for veterans

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Updated: 11/06/2012 6:13 am
Veterans in Clark County, facing criminal charges have a chance to get their lives back on track through their very own court. News 3 Sandra Gonzalez has more on veteran's court.

LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- Veteran’s Day is around the corner, and there is one courtroom in Clark County trying to make a difference for veterans caught in the criminal justice system.

Veteran Randy Lewis has been attending Veterans Court trying to get his life back on track, and he’s been successfully sober for one year.

“This is my life. I mean who wants to live a life of drugs man? I want to be a productive member of society like most everyone else wants to be and it's important to me and this program has been a gateway for me to return to that,” Lewis said.

Judge Linda Bell presides over Veteran’s Court in District Court. It is now a stand-alone courtroom that grew out of Drug Court. It’s been operating on its own for about two months, focusing solely on Veterans with criminal charges to help them get their lives together. Judge Bell says often they are coping with their problems through substance abuse.

“I think it's a very difficult transition that vets have such a hard time making and sometimes they self-medicate to make the whole thing easier,” Bell said.

“It’s typically the PTSD, and also in today's economy when they are coming back the jobs aren't there, the family is disrupted, they are losing their homes and a lot of times they're seeking a way to kind of deal with that,” said Peter Quigley of the Department of Veteran Affairs.

In Veteran’s Court, veterans are able to access services besides substance abuse. They can get help with PTSD, homelessness, and mental health, whatever it is that they need to get their lives in order.

Veteran Suzanne Estrada is trying to get a permanent home and stay sober. Through this specialized court, she is on her way. She likes that the court is intimately focused on the special needs of veterans.

“I feel a sense of honor, like I’m the person I’m supposed to be and staying sober and just recently got a job,” Estrada said.

She and Lewis are on their way to better lives thanks to one court making a difference.

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