ONTARIO — Malheur County Veterans Court honored the first veteran to complete its program in four years in a graduation ceremony held Monday at Malheur County Justice Court.
James Broughman Sr., of Ontario, received his certificate of completion from Justice of the Peace Margie Mahony in a ceremony attended by several participants in Veterans Court.
Broughman said he served in the U.S. Army during the 1970s serving in Korea.
In a statement given to lead off the event, Judge Mahony said, “Veterans Court consists of a team of people who can provide resources or direct the participant to resources in areas where he needs assistance in being a healthy, productive member of the community.”
Besides Mahony, the court’s primary team includes Connie Tanaka, county Veterans Service Officer; Chrystal Copenhaver, jail diversion counselor from Lifeways; Sarah Kearney, veterans justice outreach officer from the Veterans Administration; Tess Shellenbarger, TFP Counseling Services; Tara Howie, Veteran Family Support (U.S. National Guard); and Jessica Pena, Veterans Court coordinator.
While there have been other veterans who have been enrolled in the Veterans Court, Broughman is the first to go all the way through the program, Tanaka said.
For veterans who qualify, the court is an alternative to going to jail, Mahoney said. After successfully completing the program, a veteran can have their record cleared, Tanaka said.
For Broughman, he was facing an assault charge and had been referred from Malheur County Circuit Court, Pena said.
The outline of the program is that for about 18 months, Broughman went to Veterans Court twice per month to meet with the team and to show that he was meeting requirements. These included following treatments plans, attending counseling sessions and maintaining his housing among other requirements. The court participant must also be complying with probation conditions.
“Mr. Broughman was cooperative and dedicated in his efforts to complete the program,” Mahony said. “In his case, he especially needed assistance with housing and budgeting. Community in Action, another community partner helped him find affordable housing, Tara Howie, helped him set up a budget.”
Others who provided assistance were Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida; Mary Sheldon, owner of Yore Consignment in Nyssa; and St. Vincent de Paul in Caldwell.
The main speaker for the event was Senior Circuit Court Judge Pat Sullivan, who has been involved with treatment with various types of treatment courts for several years.
“She is one of the primary reasons Veterans Court is in existence in Malheur County,” Mahony said, of Sullivan in her introduction.
Noting she has a long history with treatment courts, Sullivan said, “treatment courts work,” adding that Oregon is a leader in those type of programs.
These courts have the flexibility to treat the whole person, she said, while targeting specific needs.
“They work in large and small communities,” Sullivan said.
She got Veterans Court started after the start of the war in Iraq, she said. After she started seeing veterans in her courtroom, and noticed some who served in Vietnam had re-occurring stress from scenes they were seeing of the war.
Veterans Court programs, that honor military service have a greater of success, Sullivan said.
She added that she is very proud of what Broughman said he has accomplished.
“He has worked hard. It is hard.”
Broughman was advised to stay in touch with the team as the door is not closed.
For his part, he said he has plans to continue being a volunteer at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida.