Special to Iredell Free News

Purple Heart Homes, in conjunction with numerous community partners, has been awarded a $679,727 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to fund a four-year Veteran’s Treatment Court for Iredell and Alexander counties.

“We are ensuring they get due process, and ultimately, this impacts housing. When the veterans get a felony on their record, it impacts veterans’ ability to rent, get well paying jobs, and receive assistance from Purple Heart Homes,” CEO and Co-Founder John Gallina said.  “When we help the veteran receive rehabilitation for their mistakes and, ultimately, get a felony off their record, it helps everyone involved.

“Purple Heart Homes continues to be a committed partner to better our communities while serving veterans.”

Last year, Brad Borders, vice president of Community Outreach at Purple Heart Homes, encountered a veteran through Reboot Recovery, a combat trauma healing program, who was entangled in the justice system. The veteran’s combat service wasn’t made known during court proceedings, which resulted in a conviction.

That outcome did not sit well with Borders. 

This story led Borders to discuss the issues with other team members. Purple Heart Homes staff began doing research and reached out to local contacts. The Catawba County Veterans Treatment Court mentored the organization throughout the process and fostered connections that ultimately led to receiving the grant funding.

Purple Heart Homes called on county commissioners James Mallory and Melissa Neader to assist with the project.

“I am optimistic about the future results for Iredell County having a Veterans Treatment Court program. The opportunities for participants through the recovery-based diversion could be life changing. The resources that support an improved lifestyle are connected with the Veterans Treatment Court and structured with those experienced with military training therefore encouraging and strengthening the outcome. I am thankful for Purple Heart Homes and the District Attorney’s office for bringing this to Iredell County,” said Neader.

Purple Heart Homes hired Amy Clinton to write a grant for Iredell County so taxpayer dollars didn’t have to be spent on this initiative.

The Iredell County District Attorney’s office was a key player in connecting stakeholders and instrumental in the writing of the grant. From Purple Heart Homes to the Sheriff’s Office to county commissioners, and many others, bringing a Veterans Treatment Court to Iredell County proved to be a community effort.

Veterans Treatment Court offers accountability through rehabilitation services while also ensuring public safety. The special courts take into consideration the trauma experienced by service members and develop a program to aid their road to recovery.

Sgt. Tommy Rieman was presented with the Silver Star by President Bush after exercising great devotion to his country and fellow soldiers during Operation Iraqi Freedom. During a convoy operation, Sgt. Rieman’s three-vehicle convoy was ambushed. He used his own body to protect his gunner and suffered multiple wounds. Regardless of the wounds endured, Sgt. Rieman took charge and moved the convoy out of enemy exposure. After encountering and suppressing a smaller attack, he set up a defensive perimeter so that a medical team could extract the wounded. All soldiers that were part of the convoy operation made it home alive.

Sgt. Rieman is also a veteran that benefited from the N.C. veterans treatment court system.

“Veterans Treatment Court helped me in a time where I wasn’t capable of helping myself. I was the first graduate of the NC Veterans Treatment Court in District 11A out of Harnett County, N.C.,” he said. “I drove each week to court to face the judge with rehabilitation as the number one focus. The court system provided me clarity, structure, accountability, and care. It’s easy to feel like you are on an island when you are in a dark place. The VTC showed me that people cared, and it was the best thing for me. I was partnered with a mentor, a Vietnam veteran who had faced similar obstacles well before me. He was able to guide and assist me along the way when I couldn’t see the bigger picture. These courts are proven every day that they help, and it should be an opportunity for people to heal, especially veterans.”

Another local veteran in Catawba said, “It is my belief that without VTC, I would not be here to be able to tell what the program meant to me. Catawba County Veterans Treatment Court saved my life. VTC has given me the means of treatment and education to be able to successfully fight my addiction. It taught me that not everything comes immediately, but with the ability to reach out for assistance, anything is possible. Their guidance really helped me with proper medical diagnosis, a treatment plan, housing assistance, financial stability, disability compensation and Vocational Readiness & Education. VTC’s help has definitely made a difference in building a new solid foundation towards this new path of sober life.”

Changing one individual’s life allows for a whole community to be impacted.

Purple Heart Homes was proud to partner alongside countless individuals and organizations to ensure veterans had the opportunity to share their stories when afflicted with legal issues.

“The Department of Justice award of $679,727 to fund a four-year Veteran’s Drug Court for the 22A Judicial District (Iredell and Alexander Counties)

Board of Commissioners Chairman James Mallory said the four-year grant is “yet another example of the power of public-private partnerships where non-profit organizations such as Purple Heart Homes can identify needs and proposed solutions for veterans who struggle with a myriad of issues that can result in a downward spiral ending up in the Judicial system.

“Kudos to Sara Kirkman, 22d District Attorney, for championing this effort within the judicial system and the full throated response by our judges, Sheriff Campbell, the Department of Corrections together with Daymark and Partners Mental Health Management to come together and create a multidisciplinary response to address the underlying issues affecting a small but not insignificant number of our veterans and demonstrate our communities commitment to uphold the Soldiers Creed to ‘never leave a fallen comrade,” Mallory added.

%d bloggers like this: