Washington County Veterans Treatment Court celebrates first veterans to complete program

The Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) held a ceremony for the first participant to graduate from the program in Washington County.

 The program was put in place to help veterans who suffer from conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). First launched in 2019, VTC is a program for veteran offenders with substance abuse and mental health issues. The two-year program targets veterans who have committed non-violent felony or misdemeanor crimes and live in Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson or Washington County. 

George Gauss is the first for Washington County. With State Attorney Larry Basford, Chief Circuit Judge Christopher Patterson, and Program Director Shonta Covington present, Patterson presented Gauss with a certificate of completion and a salute. “Well done, Mr. Gauss. We are proud of the progress that you have made in this program,” said Patterson. “Now you can begin again with a clean slate. Mission accomplished.”

Gauss, a former soldier in the Army Airborne Infantry who served in Korea and suffers from PTSD, says there are many more out there like him. “If it weren’t for Veterans Treatment Court, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Said Gauss. “There are so many veterans out there that would benefit from this program like I have.”

Patterson says that the entire treatment team is proud of Gauss and all the participants in each county. “We could not be prouder of the participants in this program,” said Patterson. “We don’t just handle the judicial side of things; we help treat the root of the issues they face.”

Basford says it is important for people to know what the VTC program is about.

“VTC provides opportunities and resources to help rehabilitate those who want the help,” said Basford. “And it does this all while holding veterans accountable for their mistakes. We have a very large veteran population in our area, and we owe a debt to the men and women who have served our country. Veteran’s Treatment Court is one way we can help.” 

For more information on Veteran’s Treatment Court, contact the Veteran’s Treatment Manager Shonta Covington at (850) 767-3567.