TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - It's a court that's not about judgment, but encouragement.
Veterans who have struggled with issues like addiction are getting a second chance thanks to Veterans Treatment Court.
"It combines the aspects of criminal court, mental health court, drug court and it's also a diversionary court which allows for hearing cases of veterans who get in trouble with the law," said senior coordinator DJ Reyes, a retired Army colonel.
Marine veteran Cammillia Simmons is a graduate of the program.
"I would not be where I am today without veterans treatment court and the mentor program," Simmons said. "I was homeless, I did not have a job, dealing with substance abuse."
Veterans in the program are assigned volunteer mentors to help them find the road to redemption.
"It is a bit tearful because it reminds me of my journey and where I've been, but it is amazing to see them graduate. It is amazing to see them get the coin and get the certificate, have their charges dropped. It's like a new life a new journey for them," she said.
Overcoming their obstacles isn't easy.
"I was kind of resistant when it came to counseling," Simmons admits.
Denial is partly the result of ingrained military culture.
"What we counsel and mentor the veterans on is this: it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help," Reyes said.
Simmons plans to eventually return to the courtroom as a mentor.
"So I'm able to give back in that way," she said.