BY JESSICA STEELEY
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Golfers at the seventh annual LaLonde Charity Open in July hope to help a lot of veterans with $132,918.23 in donations. “The amount of money they’re able to raise is absolutely amazing,” said the Hon. Kelley Kostin, judge in the 52/2 District Court and the Veterans Treatment Court. “It’s a great program, it’s a passion.”
The check was presented to the Friends of the North Oakland and Macomb County Veterans Treatment Court by LaLonde Charities and Summit Place Kia, Oct. 10.
“We work with a bunch of heroes, and they’ve only got one passion in life and that’s saving lives,” said Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle. “Who better than to really, really focus on than our veterans, those who have given so much.”
Kittle, who helped unveil the check, explained the treatment court specializes in veterans suffering from PTSD, or a similar debilitating illness, who are struggling in the local judiciary system. The court provides support to help the veteran stay focused on a healthy lifestyle.
“The Veterans Treatment Court is an alternative to throwing a struggling veteran in jail,” Kittle said. “Our goal is to try to eliminate those speed bumps in life, so that he can stay focused on making sure he’s meeting all his court requirements, his probation requirements, his mental health requirements, his medical requirements, and we try to remove some of those distractions that are causing him to struggle.”
“If our veterans have a need, we try to meet that need for them,” Kostin said.
Kostin explained they take veterans with a misdemeanor charge, usually substance abuse, and they voluntarily enter the treatment court, which is normally an 18 to 24-month program.
“What we want to do is to try to treat the problem, but then also teach them how to be functioning members of society,” she said.
The court works with the Veterans Administration (VA) to be able to immediately access what each individual participant needs and what VA benefits they’re not taking advantage of.
“If it’s counseling, they get their counseling, 12-step programs, any type of health care they may need, sometimes they need housing, we take care of that,” Kostin added.
Veterans in the court have community mentors who are also veterans, and in some cases former program participants, who volunteer their time by pairing up with an individual in the program.
“If they need transportation, they take them to their meetings, their counseling, they’re on the phone, 24 hours a day they’re available, they really do all the background work,” Kostin said.
The Friends of the treatment court rely on fundraising events and donations, such as the charity open golf outing, to provide support and help for the veterans in their program.