The Manatee County Veterans Treatment Court held its first session in Bradenton on Aug. 6, 2015, before Circuit Judge Andrew Owens Jr. as a way to help vets who enter the judicial system get treatment and assistance.
But one of the stumbling blocks for the program has been finding enough veterans to mentor those trying to find their way back into society.
“Mentors are what make the program a success,” Chris Landis, Veterans Treatment Court services coordinator for the 12th Judicial Circuit, said Thursday at the Manatee County Veterans Council meeting.
There are only six mentors now serving all of Manatee and Sarasota, and about 20 are needed, Landis said.
An estimated 500 veterans enter the criminal justice system annually in Bradenton-Sarasota, and the veterans court is intended to assist those facing lower level charges.
“Veterans court has a 90 percent success rate,” Landis said.
Veterans interested in mentoring may contact Landis at email@example.com.
Also appearing at Thursday’s Veterans Council meeting was John Secor, Sarasota Film Festival producer.
The festival has launched “Project Rebirth” to teach documentary filmmaking to post-9/11 veterans.
“This is our first year. We started with four veterans, and they are really going to town. They are so into it,” Secor said.
The mission of Project Rebirth is to “facilitate healing, foster hope and build resilience.”
This year’s veteran-produced documentary focuses on veterans treatment court and is set to be shown April 4 during the Sarasota Fim Festival.
Organizers hope to double the class size for Project Rebirth. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In other business Thursday, the Manatee Veterans Council:
- Approved a request from Deb Kehoe and Kathi Skelton to use the council logo for the Homes for Our Troops golf tournament at Rosedale Golf and Country Club. The nonprofit provides mortgage free homes for severly wounded post-9/11 veterans. Last year’s tourney raised $43,000 for the project, Kehoe said.
- Woody Schiffman announced that Gen. Frank Laudano will be interred at Sarasota National Cemetery 3 p.m. Jan. 26. The funeral service will be at Patriot Plaza. Laudano, commandant of Sarasota Military Academy, died of a heart attack at age 56.