l-r; William Jordan, Mental Health Veterans Court; Rosetta Miller Perry, publisher/CEO Tennessee Tribune, U.S. Navy Veteran, guest speaker; Brenda Haywood, Metro Metro Council District 3; Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs; Kathleen Murphy, Metro Council District 24; Hon. Judge Melissa Blackburn and Freddie O’Connell, Metro Council District 19 Photo submitted

NASHVILLE, TN — Seven veterans  graduated from the Davidson County Veterans Court program on Monday, August 7, at 1:30 p.m. Veterans Court is an alternative program designed to help veterans who are charged with non-violent offenses. Upon successful completion of the program, charges against them are expunged. The graduation will take place in Courtroom 3-B at the Justice A.A. Birch Courthouse, 408 Second Avenue South.

Veterans Court is a three-phase program including therapy, drug and alcohol recovery, and assistance employment and long-term housing. Judge Melissa Blackburn presides over the program, which has assisted nearly 90 veterans in the three years she has been involved.

“Veterans can have a difficult time returning to civilian life after living in a combat zone. For some, it is easy for them to fall into old, destructive habits or self-medicate with illegal substances to try to forget the horrors of war,” explained Judge Blackburn. “This court offers a structured alternative to assist them in many ways, allowing them to continue to be valued members of the community rather than be incarcerated for non-violent offenses.”

Tennessee Tribune publisher Rosetta Perry, a U.S. Navy veteran, was the speaker at the graduation. Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder will also attend. A cake reception will follow the graduation.