TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, CALIF. - Mentorship plays a major role in the development of military members. Being a good wingman and providing support to our peers applies to veterans even after their service has ended, especially when they are going through a rough time in their lives.
The Veteran’s Treatment Court of Solano County, operated by the Superior Court of California, provides a way for veterans, who could otherwise be sentenced to county jail or state prison, to rehabilitate through support and treatment.
Participants are offered services, support and strategies that promote treatment efforts, to include a mentor for each participant.
“You will be assigned a volunteer veteran mentor from the community to support your efforts to create a better life,” reads the VTC Participant Handbook. “Your mentor is your peer and wants to work with you to help you succeed. He or she will be a valuable resource for you.”
Master Sgt. Brianna Hunt, 60th Force Support Squadron Sgt. Paul P. Ramoneda Airman Leadership School Commandant, has been a mentor program coordinator and an active mentor with the VTC Program for two and a half years.
“The previous command chief [of the 60th Air Mobility Wing], Chief Master Sgt. Alan Boling, enlisted my help in coordinating an Active Duty partnership with the Solano County Veterans Treatment Court, so that the veterans know they truly are not forgotten or left behind simply because they hung up the uniform,” said Hunt.
In order to qualify for the VTC program, an individual must be a veteran who alleges that he or she committed a criminal offense as a result of sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse or mental health problems stemming from service in the United States military.
“The majority of military members join very young and grow up in the military with the guidance of supervisors, first sergeants and the ample support of base agencies,” said Hunt. “Although programs assisting members in transitioning out of the military have made great strides, many individuals struggle without the guidance and support they had in the service. This compounded with mental and often physical conditions connected to their service sometimes leads members to make poor choices and find themselves maneuvering the justice system.”
The VTC is a collaborative court, meaning that the judge, probation officer, attorneys, district attorney, county veterans service officer, veterans justice outreach worker with Veteran Affairs, case manager and mentor coordinator, work as a team in the best interest of the participant.
“VTC, along with mentors, walk with these veterans through troubled times and into a new beginning,” said Hunt.
The program has five highly-structured phases of treatment and rehabilitation for 18 months designed to help and support participants. Upon successful completion of the program, participants will graduate from the program and the charges against them will either be reduced or dropped all together, depending on the offense and the charges.
Travis Air Force Base currently has four mentors and are seeking more. Active duty, reservists and guard members can participate. Interested individuals should be willing to dedicate 18 months to the program.
“We work around [temporary deployments], deployments and extenuating circumstances,” said Hunt. “Mentors must be senior NCOs, officers or mature technical sergeants. Deployment experience is a bonus. I invite anyone interested in mentoring to contact me and accompany me to a court hearing or even a graduation to see the program for themselves.”
Mentors are involved throughout the entire process, from sitting in on the veteran’s hearing all the way to graduation.
“Often times the mentee feels that they can trust and relate to their mentors and will look to their mentor for guidance when they are struggling,” said Hunt. “Witnessing the appreciation from the mentee when they realize that we are not giving up on them and watching them regain confidence and honor is my favorite part of mentoring.”
For more information on the Veterans Treatment Court Program and how to become a mentor, contact MSgt. Brianna Hunt at email@example.com.