The Catawba County Veterans’ Treatment Court (VTC) hosted its third graduation ceremony on Friday, December 15, 2023, at the Catawba County Courthouse, recognizing the accomplishments of five more graduates.
The ceremony honoring the achievements of Carrie White (U.S. Coast Guard), James Talbert (U.S. Army), Ashley Paige (U.S. Army), Glenn Baker (U.S. Air Force) and Shawn Smith (U.S. Marine Corps) took place in a courtroom with elected officials, community dignitaries, veterans and other participants of the Catawba VTC in attendance.
White and Paige are the first female graduates from the Catawba County Veterans’ Treatment Court.
The VTC graduates were joined during the ceremony by their mentors, Lorrie Lawrence, Cary Bowman, Brian Bastone and Lonnie Arthur.
The first Veterans’ Treatment Court session in Catawba County took place on May 13, 2021, following an April 29 kickoff that same year, and has been offered every other Thursday since that time. A total of 13 veterans have completed and graduated from the treatment court.
“Five years ago, we embarked on a mission to assist veterans struggling with the challenges of returning to civilian life,” 36th Prosecutorial District Attorney Scott Reilly said. “As we celebrate our third graduation, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the entire Veterans’ Treatment Court team and, specifically, our veteran volunteer mentors. Their unwavering support has been the backbone of the Veterans’ Treatment Court.
“Today is the culmination of 18 months of our graduates’ dedication and resilience. However, let us remember that our duty doesn’t end here. While we celebrate our graduates, let us renew our commitment to supporting all veterans.”
The VTC is a way to divert veterans from the traditional criminal justice system and gives them the support they need to lead productive and law-abiding lives by providing referrals for treatment, education, vocational programs and other community resources, all while being involved in a judicially-monitored environment.
Catawba County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Scott Loflin, a bailiff at the courthouse, also was recognized for his work with the Veterans’ Treatment Court prior to his retirement.
Catawba – with a population of nearly 10,000 veteran residents – was just the fifth county in the state to have a treatment court for veterans, joining Buncombe, Cumberland, Forsyth and Harnett counties in providing such assistance to veterans who have cases in the court system. Since then, nearby Gaston and Iredell counties also have established treatment courts for their veteran populations.