The Bozeman Municipal Court is part of a special program to help veterans get their lives back on track.
The Bozeman Veterans Treatment Court allows service men and women, past and present, to get help for a variety of bad paths, from alcohol abuse, misdemeanors, even felonies.
After months of work, three former Marines stood side by side to graduate.
For any of the district court rooms in the Gallatin County Law and Justice Center, clapping is a rare phenomenon.
For these Marines, it comes after more than a year of effort.
“They have to test at least three times per week for both drugs and alcohol,” says Judge Colleen Herrington, Bozeman Municipal Court judge. “It is a treatment court, so it has that substance abuse piece. They have to attend treatment. They have to be employed or in school.”
“It’s been a life changer,” says Sidney Jones, enlisted Marine.
For Jones, it was a broken road; alcohol abuse led to problems with his family.
“The life lessons I’ve learned over the past 16 months, the friends I’ve made, the guidance that I’ve gotten from the veterans team, it means a lot,” Jones says. “I took it on and was kind of resentful at first and they recognized that I had issues and I started doing anger management. I completed MRT.”
Along with fellow enlisted Marine Joe Bowman.
“I had good mentors by my side to help me navigate the whole process,” Bowman says.
Sergeant Michael Weber stood alongside them too, with his own battle behind him.
“Hostility, anger,” Weber says. “It drove me everyday. I survived on that.”
“Mike, honest to God, looked beat down by life,” said one of the treatment team, in regards to Weber. “That was the impression that I got. He was homeless. He was, at the time, unable to help provide for his wife Diana’s special needs. He just kind of seemed lost.”
For the three Marines, this goes further than just the courtroom, even the Law and Justice Center.
This is a new lease on life, they say, and for one of them, he hopes to bring that back to future veterans to come.
That would be Weber.
He told a full room that he wants to get his LAC, to become a Licensed Addiction Counselor.
As for Jones:
“My girlfriend is now my wife,” he says. “We just celebrated our one year anniversary on Veterans Day. It’s something that I will remember for the rest of my life. I met Marines in this group that are going to be close friends of mine for a long time, for as long as we all live.”
Judge Herrington says there are four veterans enrolled in the program right now with another veteran planning to enroll next week.