No one knows exactly who the first military person to say, “no man left behind,” but it captures the commitment between those serving in uniform. And it does not leave after the uniform is off because there is a bond among vets that is impossible to describe but also impossible to miss.
Unfortunately, for many of those who served in combat or combat areas, there are scars that never truly heal. Many veterans are known to have a warrior’s mentality and often refuse or fail to address their needs for physical and psychological health care. When they get back to civilian life, they may have ‘triggers’ that lead to harm to themselves and those around them.
As was mentioned in last week’s County Hall Corner column, the Lycoming County Veterans Court is an extremely important treatment court that began in January 2019 to address the growing number of veterans in our county who find themselves involved in the criminal justice system.
For the veteran, it begins with Jerod Corman, an officer with the Adult Probation Department. Jerod is a young man who graduated seven years ago from Penn College with a degree in Applied Human Services. He was leaning toward joining the PA State Police, but after interning with the Lycoming County Adult Probation Office, he found his occupational home.
The county benefited the most because this young man is incredibly wise and committed to his job. Since all treatment courts are voluntary, when Jerod knows an individual is a military veteran, he will go through all the objectives of the program and all the things they must abide by. He must discern if they are ready for positive change, and if not, then this is not the program for them.
If Jerod believes they could benefit from this program, he will encourage them to apply. This will then be reviewed by the District Attorney and West Branch Drug and Alcohol representatives to determine if they are appropriate for the veteran. It takes a lot of effort and a lot of work from many people, not the least of which is the veteran. Still, the result is that justice is served by keeping the community safe and the individual being rehabilitated rather than just being incarcerated. It is win/win for everyone.
But Jerod was quick to note that the absolutely key element to this program is the veteran mentors. This is spearheaded by the Lycoming County Veterans Affairs Director, Mike McMunn, who serves in a volunteer capacity as mentor coordinator and not as part of his county job. Like Jerod, he seems like he was born for the task he is now doing, although unlike Jerod, who has yet to see 30, Mike is in his mid-seventies. Despite the age disparity, these men work hand-in-hand in a mutual admiration society.
Unless your name is John Rambo, no one goes into combat alone. The court system is intimidating to anyone, and this is why the role of the volunteer veteran mentor is so vital. They act as a coach, guide, role model, advocate, and a support for their mentee. Their purpose as a volunteer veteran mentor is to encourage, guide, and support the mentee as he/she progresses through the court process.
To date, there have been three graduates, with some eight right now in the pipeline. “No one left behind” is the motto of the Veteran Mentoring Program, and unless some more vets step up, as this program will undoubtedly expand, there will be some who have served our country in uniform that will be not getting the support that they need. It is worth volunteering to be a mentor just to be around committed individuals like Jerod Corman and Mike McMunn.
Any veteran who wishes to inquire more about this program should contact Mike McMunn at email@example.com or call (570)220-8156. And thank you for your service!