Five years ago, Upstate Warrior Solution partnered with the Solicitor’s Office and Judge Charles Simmons in the thirteenth Circuit to create the Greenville Veterans Treatment Court (VTC). This action would have a positive effect on numerous veterans, including Craig, a corporal in the Marine Corps infantry.
Craig previously deployed to Fallujah and to Guantanamo, before transitioning out of the military. He began to have money issues and he became depressed (traced back to his combat deployment), and he also started drinking at home alone. Due to his financial and mental health problems, the VA prescribed him five medications. From there, Craig’s struggles began to invade every aspect of his life.
These struggles created more trouble for Craig when he made a mistake and was charged with a nonviolent felony in February of 2017. His lawyer told him about the Greenville VTC. Because the VTC is like drug and mental health courts, it is a means for eligible veterans to be diverted from the traditional criminal justice system and provided support and rehabilitation. Craig recognized this was an opportunity to get his life back on track. In November 2017, he was accepted into the program. Once his acceptance was official, the court assigned him to Greenville Volunteer VTC Mentor Mindy Williams.
When Craig and Mindy met for the first time and talked about everything that led up to the VTC, neither of them knew whether he would be able to change his current life situation. Craig’s mind was stuck in the present, unable to see how his life could be better or the light at the end of the tunnel. He felt helpless and thought he would complete the program a year later without anything changing. He thought he would just do what he needed to do and be out. He went through the motions, doing what he needed to do, coasting along, having the same problems but with no real solutions. Because of this mindset, Craig struggled in the beginning of the program.
Eventually, Craig realized he needed Mindy and the Greenville VTC program and that he needed to do well in the program to get his life back on track. He knew he got lucky when the court chose Mindy to mentor him. Because Mindy was his guide and his support through the program, standing firm in her guidelines and keeping him on the right path, Craig stayed on his treatment plan. He continued to stay sober and kept communicating with her. Over the course of the eleven months in the program, things started to change for the better.\
Now, Craig is taking charge of his life and taking responsibility for his actions rather than hiding behind a bottle as he had been doing. Once he started taking charge of his life, everything got better. The experience changed his mindset. He realized that when you are optimistic and have a positive outlook, you start to believe that more is possible. Craig looked back on his life and understood how alcohol poisoned his family and how he could take charge and change his life for the better. He also learned to value the role of a mentor and realized he could be one too.
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