Will County Veterans Court to graduate first member to kick addiction

September 17

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James W. Glasgow announced that a veteran of the U.S. Army and theU.S. Air Force will be the first person to graduate from the Will CountyVeterans Court.

Walter McCann, 67, of Wilmington,who has struggled with alcoholism throughout his life and the more than 35years since he was honorably discharged from the Air Force, will graduate fromthe Veterans Court during a ceremony scheduled for 1 p.m. Sept. 26 at JolietCity Hall, 150 W. Jefferson Street in downtown Joliet.

In addition to McCann, 12other people will graduate from the Will County Drug Court program during theSept. 26 ceremony. Veterans Court functions as a program within the Will CountyDrug Court. Over the past 13 years, Drug Court team has helped more than 300people kick their addictions and avoid felony convictions for non-violentcrimes they have committed.

The 12 Drug Court members who will graduate arefrom Channahon,Frankfort, Romeoville, Plainfield, Waukegan, Joliet, Crest Hill, Wilmingtonand Elgin.

State’s Attorney Glasgowworked with the local Judiciary, including former Chief Judge Gerald Kinney andpresiding Drug Court Judge Carla Alessio Policandriotes, to establish theVeterans Court in May of 2012.  The court is designed to provide treatment,counseling and assistance to local veterans who have struggled with mentalhealth and substance abuse disorders – in many cases as a direct result oftheir dedicated service to our country – since returning home from militaryoperations.

The Judiciary and the State’s Attorney’s Office havepartnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Edward Hines Jr. VAHospital, the Veterans Assistance Commission of Will County, the Center forCorrectional Concerns, the Will County Health Department and the Will CountyPublic Defender’s Office to provide veterans with the treatment and mentalhealth services they need to complete the program and restore their lives.

“Thousands of veterans havereturned home over the years suffering from substance abuse problems or mentalhealth disorders including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or depression,” saidState’s Attorney Glasgow. “Oftentimes, these disorders can be attributed totheir heroic actions in preserving our liberty. We enjoy extraordinary freedomsbecause of their sacrifices. As a result, when they come in contact with ourjustice system, we have an obligation to acknowledge their service and providethem with the treatment and counseling necessary for them to regain theirlives.”

McCann joined the Army in1965 at the age of 18 and was stationed first in Korea and later inGermany.  After his discharge, McCann enlisted in the Air Force in 1977and served until 1981.

A carpenter by trade, McCannstruggled with alcohol abuse. However, he has been able to maintain sobrietyfor extended periods during his adult life. He was facing a charge of unlawfulpossession of a firearm when he began Veterans Court. The charge is expected tobe dismissed upon his graduation next week.

The graduation ceremony is open to the public. Veteransorganizations are encouraged to attend. Free parking is available on the sixthlevel of the Harrah’s Casino Parking Deck on Jefferson Street across from CityHall.