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Veterans get help and avoid jail time in York County Treatment Court

York, Pa. -- Veterans who are dealing with drug or alcohol problems, may eventually have a run in with the law.

However, the York County Veterans Treatment Court helps vets avoid jail time.

Thursday is graduation day for Army veteran Jason Howe, as he celebrated one of the highest moments of his life by overcoming one of the lowest.

"Happy, excited, you know, to get into treatment court of any kind. You're probably at the lowest of any point of your life, and just to be able to walk across that stage and receive that kind of recognition, just for all the hard work you put in," Howe said.

His work paid off, as York County recognizes Howe's successful completion of its Veterans Treatment Court program.

Howe said he had used alcohol to cope with a failing marriage, which created more problems than it solved for the Army vet.

"A cop tried to pull me over for a DUI, and at that point, I sped away from the cop. I fled from the police officer, and that did cause an accident where someone was unfortunately injured in that. It was a long road of a lot of drinking, drinking abuse to get me to the point where I needed treatment court," Howe said.

For vets like Howe, treatment court means spending up to a year-and-a-half working with a probation officer, rather than spending time behind bars.

"The biggest thing that helps in treatment court is that it's broken into three phases, and during those phases you have more accountability," Howe said.

Treatment court probation officer Brian Roby said "phase one is the most intensive phase, that's weekly probation appointments, weekly court sessions, sometimes daily drug testing, depending upon the individual."

Howe's mentor in the program, Robert Wallace, is another vet who always had his back.

"I made sure that he stayed up with what the program demanded of him and we talked quite a bit, constantly between ourselves," Wallace said.

"I lost my license through suspensions with PennDOT. Rob was really good if I needed a ride, or I needed to get to somewhere. He would come pick me up and make sure I was there," Howe said.

Wallace is more than just someone Howe could talk to, he's someone The younger vet could relate to as well.

"I got busted back in '85. There was no program like this to help a guy like me. I had drinking problems too, but they were solved more or less on my own," Wallace said.

It's why York County's Veterans Treatment Court makes sure that today's vets don't have to fight their personal battles with drugs or alcohol alone.

"A lot of guys go through a lot of things in the military, and I see how they're treated out here, and to have a program like this, it really means a lot that there's somebody there that can help them," Wallace said.

"These guys are exposed to some of the worst things imaginable in the world, and for us to say, a prison sentence or prison cell is appropriate for you, is a disservice to them," Roby said.