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Veterano involucrado en la justicia encuentra libertad a través del Tribunal de Tratamiento de Veteranos

A justice involved veteran in the El Paso area, Mr. Llamas, was found in violation of his probation, jailed and facing losing his freedom as well as his family. Then, members of the El Paso County Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) approached Llamas. They spoke with a down-and-out Llamas about participating in the program.

“I told Mr. Llamas that we could help him, but he had to help himself first. I told him that he had to start making different choices and would need to accept the fact that he needed help. He agreed. He said he had nothing to lose at this point because he had already lost everything that he loved,” said Yvonne Whitaker, VTC Program Director at 346th District Court in El Paso.

Whitaker shares the journey of Llamas, who faced incarceration due to probation violations and struggled with alcohol addiction and strained family relationships. Through his 18 month VTC program, Llamas completed an in-patient treatment program to address alcohol addiction and mental health issues, plus he completed his entire VTC curriculum “without a hiccup”. Even more, he found employment, secured permanent housing, enrolled in the VA for health and financial benefits, and reconnected with his family. By successfully completing of the program, Llamas was discharged from probation.

“Mr. Llamas came back with a different attitude and a new outlook in life. He had decided to turn his life around because he understood that there was only darkness at the end of the road that he had been taking. His resiliency and thirst for change allowed him to make the right choices,” said Whitaker. “We are extremely proud of Mr. Llamas for his courage to break the cycle, and for his determination to change his life around so he could be a positive role model for his children.”

After he graduated the program successfully, he was inspired to give back to the program by serving as a mentor to another veteran participant enrolled in the VTC. Llamas’s success story is included in the Veterans Treatment Court Program 2023 Annual Report, on pages 25-26.

photo of El Paso Veterans Treatment Court officials

TVC supports Veterans Treatment Courts around Texas, including El Paso, with Fund for Veterans’ Assistance grants, its Veterans Mental Health Department’s Justice Involved Veteran Program and with members of the Military Veteran Peer Network serving as mentors and coordinators.

TVC awarded El Paso County VTC a $300,000 Fund for Veterans Assistance grant this year.

Photo of Natalie Castrophoto of Shelia Anthony - MVPN El Paso

Military Peer Veteran Network Peer Services Coordinators Shelia Anthony and Natilie Castro have served as mentors and coordinators for the VTC since 2019. Their commitment enhances the approach taken by the court to actively support veterans on their journey to rehabilitation.

TVC’s Mental Health Department provides VTCs with training and technical assistance in keeping with evidence-based practices and the best practices models. It also helps to keep justice involved veterans connected with their benefits.

In 2023, there are 31 verified Veterans Treatment Courts covering 38 Texas counties, with 576 veterans successfully completing programs and 831 actively participating.

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