Veterans Court calling for more volunteers to mentor other vets

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COLUMBIA - The 13th Judicial Circuit Veterans Treatment Court is looking for more veterans to volunteer to become mentors to veterans in the county rehabilitation program in Boone and Callaway counties.

The Veterans Court was established in July 2013 as an alternative to traditional rehabilitation programs with an added safety net: Enrollees in the program are assigned a sponsor who also served in the military. The mentor is there to provide support in a way only another veteran can, by relating to experiences in the military.

"We find that a lot of the participants really respond to a volunteer, someone who is not being paid, to be in their life right now," said Clayton VanNurden, 13th Circuit treatment court administrator.

To be eligible for the program, either as a mentor or as a participant, the person has to be eligible to receive VA benefits. This is especially important for the participant in the program because all of their treatment is done through the Harry S Truman Memorial Hospital.

Participants are ordered to become a part of the program as part of their sentence from the courts. They are ordered to be in the program for a year, but that time may be adjusted by the circuit judge as needed. VanNurden said as of today, all participants in the program were convicted on substance abuse charges.

So far, only one participant in the program has been convicted of another crime since graduating the program.

If you are a military veteran and would like to volunteer to be a mentor, go to Veterans Court's website.