Strack And Van Til Donation Helping Veterans Get Their Life Back On Track Through Veteran’s Treatment Court

Strack And Van Til Donation Helping Veterans Get Their Life Back On Track Through Veteran’s Treatment Court

Strack and Van Til presented the Veteran’s Treatment Court in Crown Point with a $4000 check on Wednesday to help the program to assist veterans who face an array of challenges once they return to civilian life. This new type of court helps veterans who have found themselves on the wrong side of the law to get a handle on their situation and restart their lives.

“The Veteran’s Treatment Court is a program for our veterans who have gotten themselves into a little bit of criminal trouble,” said Hon. Julie Cantrell, judge presiding over the program in Lake Superior Court. “It’s not huge stuff, mostly substance abuse issues.”

“The Veteran’s Treatment Court puts gentlemen and ladies through a vigorous program of 18-24 months where they have to come to court once a month during the first phase, then every other month and eventually every third month once we phase them through. They check in weekly with community corrections and go to treatment with the V.A. or some other PTSD treatment or substance abuse provider if that’s their issue. It has to be V.A. approved.”

The Veteran’s Court requires a strict regiment of treatment and drug and alcohol testing policies that veterans must comply with in order for their case to be dismissed, which is the ultimate goal of those who enroll in the program.

“We have some indigent and 100% disabled veterans who can’t pay for some of the treatment programs so the money we receive from Strack and Van Til goes to help pay for therapy and is also an incentive program,” said Cantrell. “They (veterans) get gift cards when they complete the phases throughout and they all have mentors who are all veterans that have gone through similar situations they are going through. We’ll give them a $20 gift card to take their mentor out to lunch or a $20 gas card so some of Strack and Van Til’s money will go to that too.”

Former Highland Police Chief and marine, Joe Kwasney serves as the mentor coordinator for the Veteran’s Treatment Court.

“First thing they have to do is be V.A. eligible and go to all their meetings at the V.A.,” Kwasney said. “Some have fallen off the wagon and the judge brings them back. They have to do a lot of things. It’s not just ‘ok, we’ll see you in a year’ or anything like that. Some guys get counseling outside the V.A. so donations like this will go to help those guys that have a hard time paying for that counseling.”

“The mentor’s the best part of the program,” Kwasney said. “It’s hard to get mentors because people have to work and they don’t have a lot of time. A lot of these guys in here will tell you that if they didn’t have the mentor they probably wouldn’t show up. That support is what they need and the mentors come in and they don’t get paid a dime.”

Strack and Van Til does a great deal of community outreach and is always looking for ways to help organizations across northwest Indiana. Chris Bengtson, Chief Operating Officer at Strack’s, presented Judge Julie with the check and spoke about their support for veterans causes.

“Veterans causes specifically are really important to us,” Bengtson said. “These guys and gals have done much more for us than we could ever do. Whatever we can do, small or big, to assist them in their journey during and after their service we want to do.”