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Veterans Court graduates first members

Veterans Court graduates first members
Veterans Court graduates first members
Kayla Rainbolt, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, speaks to veterans, family members, court officials and other supporters after she was the first to complete Harrison County's South Central Indiana Veterans Treatment Court program. A ceremony at Southern Hills Church in Salem on Thursday evening celebrated Rainbolt's graduation, as well as that of U.S. Army veteran Timothy Howard, who completed Washington County's SCIVTC program. Photo by J.C. Lyell

The first two graduating participants of the South Central Indiana Veterans Treatment Court celebrated their completion of the program Thursday at Southern Hills Church in Salem.
The joint Harrison-Washington County program is one of Indiana’s 100 problem-solving courts that offers treatment for specific types of offenders, like recidivists, drug abusers and, in SCIVTC’s case, veterans, to lessen their charges or penalties.
Kayla Rainbolt is the first participant from Harrison County to complete the program.
She said after her service in the U.S. Marine Corps, she got in some trouble with the law and learned she needed to be more deliberate about her own mental health and self care.
‘This program was long and sometimes frustrating but worth it,’ Rainbolt said to a room full of family members, veterans and other supporters at the ceremony.
‘It’s definitely a ‘get what you give’ program,’ she added. ‘The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.’
Mark Blessinger, the SCIVTC case manager who worked with Rainbolt throughout her time in the treatment court, said in the last months before her graduation it was easy to see how she had bought into the treatment and started planning for a better future.
‘I’m pleased to say she is pursuing a degree this fall at IUS,’ Blessinger said.
Alongside Rainbolt, Timothy Howard of Washington County also celebrated his graduation from the program.
Howard said he was grateful to have had the chance to participate in the SCIVTC program, and it changed his life for the better.
‘I’ve been at rock bottom; it’s no fun,’ he said during his recognition at the ceremony.
Howard, who got married during the course of the program, said he knew he was back on the right track when he saw Washington County Prosecutor Dustin Houchin out around town and (Houchin) waved at him.
‘I don’t think he used to want to wave at me,’ Howard said while laughing.
Floyd County Superior Court Judge Maria Granger was the guest speaker for the event.
During her remarks, she said the graduates are an inspiration for all of their supporters.
‘Your experience reminds all of us that a set-back is really just a set-up for a great comeback,’ Granger said.
SCIVTC program coordinator Jessica Houchin said after this first graduation, there are now five participants from Harrison County in the program, and four from Washington County, all in varying stages of treatment. She said the court’s staff continues to meet with potential candidates for the program every week.
To qualify for the veterans court treatment program, a participant must have served in the U.S. military and be facing legal charges in one of the counties that partners with the court (Harrison, Washington, Crawford, Orange, Perry or Jackson counties). The charges can be level five or level six felonies, or misdemeanors, and the participants must have some sort of treatment issue like a mental health disorder or addiction.
Disqualifying factors for the program include prior convictions or current charges for a forcible felony or a sexual offense or severe psychological problems. A veteran may also be denied on the basis that the participant is unable to take part in treatment activities (within the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act) or in the case that the veteran has been terminated from any other problem-solving court.
The court’s guidelines say an applicant may meet all eligibility requirements but still not be suitable for the program. The final determination of an applicant’s eligibility rests with the presiding judge.