Hillsborough State Attorneys Office holds training day for Veterans Treatment Court

This morning, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and Tampa judges were on the same team. 

 It was the first time the Hillsborough state attorney's office was holding a training day for Veterans treatment court.  

The goal was to help as many troubled veterans as possible get the help they need. 

Hillsborough State Attorney Suzy Lopez says this training is vital, "it's a community effort to restore these veterans to be because they've given so much to this community by serving," explained Lopez. 

Tampa defense attorney Lily McCarty says everyone can benefit from this, "rehabilitation is always important. It’s safer for our veterans and safer for our community and making sure they are made whole again," Says McCarty. 

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Retired Army Colonel DJ Reyes is the head of the mentor program. 

He knows the battle doesn’t end for our veterans once they leave the war zone. 

Many come back broken, and some end up in legal trouble. 

Reyes created the blueprint for Veterans Treatment Court in Hillsborough County, also known as VTC.

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It’s a mentor program in criminal court that provides troubled vets facing low-level crimes, with mental health or substance abuse services, along with the guidance they need. 

Many who qualify end up graduating successfully from the program. 

They are handed a diploma and a second chance.

Young prosecutor Devan Hardaway is learning early, "they fought for our country. They’ve done so much for us, so the least we could do is do a little bit to help them," explained Hardaway.