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      Veterans Court honors first graduate

      The alternative sentencing program allows veterans to stay out of jail if they agree to get treatment for their crimes.

      Boone and Callaway County leaders honored the first graduate of a new program for military veterans with criminal cases.

      Court officials today held a ceremony recognizing the activation of the Veterans Treatment Court.

      The program started back in July and accepts veterans from similar programs including Drug Court, DWI Court and Mental Health Court.

      The alternative sentencing program allows veterans to stay out of jail if they agree to get treatment for their crimes.

      Veterans in the program usually have mental health or substance abuse problems.

      Veterans charged with certain violent crimes don??t qualify for the alternative court.

      Veterans Court Administrator Clayton VanNurden said, ??We wanted to bring together everyone who had military experience to create a comradery between everyone by keeping them all in the same groups, in the same court so they can build relationships with each other.??

      The Veterans United Foundation gave a $100,000 donation to help support the program.

      Veterans Court officials plan to honor 2 more graduates in January.