Stacey Dietz knows how difficult the readjustment to civilian life can be for military veterans.
“What makes us good soldiers doesn’t necessarily make us good civilians,” she says.
Stacey’s been out of the Air Force for more than 20 years. She’s known plenty of fellow veterans in York County who have a warrior’s mentality of ignoring their needs for physical and mental health care.
Left untreated, though, these issues can directly lead to involvement in the criminal justice system. It’s why it’s so important people like Stacey step up to make sure “no one is left behind” – even beyond the battlefield.
It’s why she volunteered to be a mentor for the York County Veterans Wellness Court.
Being a battle buddy
The Veterans Wellness Court is a unique system that diverts eligible veterans with service related trauma or substance abuse disorders that are charged with a criminal offense to a specialized criminal court docket.
Mentors like Stacey are paired with participants for the duration of the program, which often lasts 12 to 18 months. They assist the veteran through the court, treatment, and VA systems.
“You’re a battle buddy for your veteran,” she says. “You need to build a foundation, so when they hit a tough patch, they have someone to turn to.”
The program gives veterans a chance to regain stability in their lives, which could mean anything from gaining employment for the jobless to finding housing for the homeless.
Serving those who have served
The relationships that develop between the mentor and the veteran matter, Stacey says, even beyond the program.
“Substance abuse problems don’t end with graduation. You can still be there to help them through those bad days,” she says. “My first participant graduated after 18 months, but we’re still connected three years later.”
Stacey sees the program as a chance to give back to people who deserve it, she says, to serve those who have served our country.
“Helping someone who was completely overwhelmed and not sure where to turn, then seeing a big change… It’s very rewarding.”