6 veterans graduate from Dedham court treatment program

DEDHAM, Mass. — They put themselves into harm's way protecting our country and Massachusetts vets are getting a second chance after running into some trouble.

As FOX25’s Bob Ward has learned, Dedham District Court has a remarkable program to get veterans treatment instead of jail time.

This week, six veterans graduated from the program, called Veterans Treatment Court.

“I had a DUI, some possible jail time,” Peter Bell, a Navy veteran from Hopkinton, said. “I’m in the middle of my life, prime earning years, and I decided to screw up. But now I’m back and I can build my life up the right way.”

Quincy's John Keeley served in the United States Army and was also arrested for drunk driving.

“Oh my God, I just messed up everything I had and come in here, meeting this people, giving you hope so you are not desperate like that. There is hope,” he said.

A key part of the program is veterans like Peter Cook helping others as a mentor.

“When I retired, I decided I owed a debt of honor to so many of the men I had served with and who served honorably,” Cook said.

Congressman Stephen Lynch is a proponent of the veterans treatment program.

“They are so self-reliant, our veterans, their whole ethic is to be a warrior and not ask for help and be brave ad suck it up. Sometimes you need help,” he said.

The program can take as long as two years, and the court says they are more likely to see graduates return as mentors than repeat offenders.