North Carolina's New Veterans Courts: How They Work

Jan 21, 2015

Chief District Court Judge Albert A. Corbett, Jr. (Ret.) left with Lieutenant Colonel Mark Teachey (Ret.)
Credit Carol Jackson

The Veterans Treatment Court model is now up and running in North Carolina. Harnett County opened the first one.

It's designed for military veterans who are accused of non-violent crimes. Drug and alcohol counseling, housing assistance, one-on-one mentoring, and other forms of support are also available for veterans accepted into the program.

Tommy Rieman was the first to complete Veterans Treatment Court in the state. Rieman is a Silver Star recipient. His image is on a toy action figure, his picture on the cover of an XBOX 360 military game. But after his time at war, and troubles at home, he tried to end his life by getting drunk and driving into a tree. Tommy's story is not unique.

"Throughout the courts we see a number of our veterans who have served this country honorably having PTSD and becoming involved with the courts," says retired judge Andy Corbett, who worked with Rieman. "We certainly don't want to send them to jail if we can help it."

Mark Teachey runs the program. He's a retired lieutenant colonel.

"One of the things we do is that we instill that culture back into them, a military-type culture," says Teachey. "It bring them back the pride they had when they were wearing their uniform."

Such culture includes calling the soldier by his or her last name and rank.

"We have one individual who says, 'If I am not doing well, don't call me by my rank, call me 'Mr.,'" says Teachey, noting that when people enter the program, they are often at the lowest point of their lives.

"I see a group of men and women that come in to the court that are broken. They have lost their way. They want discipline in their life," he says, adding that his own military background helps him find common ground.

"We're trying to show them the respect that they're entitled to," adds Corbett.  "We don't want them to go to jail unless they absolutely have to."