By Ben Lane, TSB Staff
A venerable who’s who of Collin County politics gathered Monday at the Collin County Courthouse to dedicate the new Collin County Veterans’ Court Program. But they weren’t the only important people in the crowd. Dozens of former members of the U.S. military were also on hand to take part in the celebration.
According to the literature distributed at the dedication, the Veterans’ Court program is designed “provide support and rehabilitation opportunities to qualified criminal defendants whose crimes were materially connected to combat injuries suffered as a result of honorable service in the United States Armed Forces.”
Among the crowd were U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson, Collin County Judge Keith Self, Collin County Court at Law 2 Judge Barnett Walker, Collin County Commissioner Chris Hill, Collin County Commissioner Matt Shaheen, Mayor Stephen Terrell of Allen, and Mayor Brian Loughmiller of McKinney.
Judge John Roach welcomed the crowd of over 150 people to the Central Jury Room of the Collin County Courthouse and spoke to the importance of having a veterans’ court in Collin County. Judge Roach also read a letter from Governor Rick Perry, who noted the value having of a veterans’ court program and commended Judge Roach and Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis for their willingness to give veterans a second chance.
Willis read a dedication letter from State Senator Ken Paxton and then welcomed Reginald Smith to the stage. Smith is a former Captain in the U.S. Army and a graduate of the Dallas County Veterans’ Court Program. Smith struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder after his time in the Army, ended up homeless and spoke today with great emotion and appreciation for the Dallas County veterans’ program. He credits the program with saving him and he hopes others will come to see the benefits of having a veterans’ court program.
Congressman Sam Johnson, a former P.O.W. in Vietnam, spoke of the need for a veterans’ program and said the court will provide support and stability for veterans.
Johnson also presented Judge Roach with a flag that has flown above the Capitol in Washington D.C.
During Johnson’s speech, he asked for all those in the room who had served in the Armed Forces to stand for recognition. Nearly one-third of the room took their feet to thunderous applause.