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Old April 25th, 2016, 04:55 AM   #1
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Judge Sentences Vet To Jail And Joins Him Behind Bars

Judge sentences Vet to jail..and then joins him behind bars.

Beautiful and compassionate describes what state district court Judge Lou Olivera did for former Special Forces Sgt. Joseph Serna.

Serna served four combat tours in Afghanistan in an 18- year career in the U.S. Army. He was almost killed three times..once by a roadside bomber,..and once by a suicide bomber. In his years of service, he earned the Purple Heart three times and a myriad of other decorations. His friend Sgt. James Treber sacrificed his own life so Serna..his comrade..would live.

He couldn’t leave the battlefield behind him.

Since he returned to the U.S., this soldier..Green Beret.. suffered from PTSD. And on his descent, he was charged with a DUI. He entered the Veterans Treatment court program, in Cumberland County, N.C. Judge Olivera presided. He appeared before the judge 25 times, every two weeks for a year, in getting help for his addiction, in his new battle..to stay sober. He took a urine test, which he admitted to lying about. The judge sentenced Serna to one day in jail.

The judge drove Serna to jail himself, in his own car.

“When Joe first came to turn himself in, he was trembling. I decided that i’d spend the night with him.” When Serna asked the judge where they where going, the judge responded with, “We’re going to turn ourselves in.”

As Serna was sitting on the bunk in the one-man cell, the judge came into the cell and sat down on the bunk with him. The cell door shut and was locked.

“You are here for the entire time with me, judge?”

“Yeah, that’s what i’m doing.”

The judge, a Gulf-War Vet himself, was concerned that leaving Serna in isolation for the night would exacerbate his mental health issues. So the judge spent his first night ever behind bars.

The two passed the night talking about, and at times purging their experiences whilst in the military, and on the front lines. “It was personal”, said Serna.

Said the judge of the April 13 incident, “We’re brothers-in-arms” and “ We are more like a family, the court and the team..that makes a huge difference in recovery.”

Indeed. Beautiful.
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