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Seattle's veterans treatment court sees its first 2 grads

Two Vietnam veterans are celebrating a milestone in Seattle today: They’re the first graduates of a special treatment court set up for veterans.

Seattle Municipal Court started the treatment court in September 2011 as a way to help veterans facing misdemeanor charges have access to more services.

Going through the two-year program is not easy. Veterans must agree to frequent drug tests and lots of oversight. But the Department of Veterans Affairs also connects them to services like counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse, as well as help finding better housing.

Burns Petersen, a defense attorney in the treatment court, says the program aims to keep veterans from falling through the cracks.  

"Our goal is to put veterans in a good place so that when the court mandates fall away, they can successfully move forward and lead a healthy life," Petersen said.

Two of the current 20 participants are graduating after meeting all of the court’s requirements. Since the court was created, one person left the program and went to jail on another charge.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.