TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) --The criminal justice system in Tupelo is stepping up to help some of our heroes who fell into hard times.
The Veterans Support Court seeks to rehabilitate soldiers who have committed minor crimes before those crimes have lifelong consequences.
Jefferey Carruth walks with a limp. He received the limp after a bomb exploded while he was serving overseas in Iraq.
"I got bone deterioration in my leg, and from that, I can't reenlist," said Carruth.
Carruth said not being able to reenlist in the Army coupled with several life events caused him to drink excessively. He said he was arrested and charged with driving under the influence a second time.
Carruth was sentenced through Drug Court. It was there he learned he was not only injured physically but mentally.
"I was diagnosed with PTSD, and a lot of people don't know what that is. A lot of soldiers won't talk about it. They are just going to hold it inside. I just think it's time that we get everyone to understand we need help," said Carruth.
Carruth approached Drug Court Judge Ricky Thompson about a court just for veterans.
"We have people that have been deployed who are coming back home. As we look at them coming back home, it will eventually become a problem. We want to be proactive," said Thompson.
How it works, Thompson said, is that only veterans with diagnosed problems and who have committed a misdemeanor can participate in the program.
"Once you get to the felony level, they lose their benefits. So then you have a veteran stuck in that loop that they really shouldn't be in," said counselor Cindy Tidwell.
Instead of going into a regular courtroom, the veteran would enter the Veterans Support Court.
"It will be specialized just for them. Veterans Court will be able to link them to their VA benefits that they are eligible for and get them assistance to maintain (life)
on their own," said coordinator Demetra Sherer.
Officials stress this is not a free pass for military veterans who find themselves in trouble with the law. It's a way to help restore those soldiers back to how they were prior to serving our country.