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12:57 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Rogers County Veterans Court Reaches First Anniversary

Credit File Photo

Rogers County marked one year today for its veterans court program, the third-largest in Oklahoma.

Modeled after Tulsa County Veterans Court, which launched in 2008, the program is helping 15 veterans beat addictions and stay out of jail.

Kassi Jones is among the veterans currently in the program. She suffered an injury serving in the Army from 2003 to 2007 and needed her right hip replaced.

An addiction to painkillers after surgery led her to heroin and an arrest for possession. Jones said veterans court has given her a lot more options than she had when she was using.

"You know, I have a lot of choices right now. I feel like — I feel pretty optimistic about the future," Jones said.

Infantryman Charles Stripland of the 101st Airborne Division served in Vietnam. He was self medicating PTSD and kidney damage with drugs and alcohol, and he was arrested for growing his own marijuana.

He said court counselors have given him a new outlook.

"For a long time, I thought that's what you had to do," Stripland said. "My relationship with my grandchildren and everything has changed, it's all changed. My whole life is so — I'm just as happy as I can be."

Participants move through five phases in the program, which usually takes a year and a half to two years to complete.

Tulsa County's veterans court claims a 96 percent success rate.