The Cascade County Veterans Treatment Court celebrated the graduation of two members in Great Falls on Tuesday, and also introduced the newest member of the Veterans Mentor Program.
Josiah Badger, a combat veteran who served in Iraq, was sworn in as a Veterans Treatment Court mentor during the event.
Badger says he's lost three comrades to suicide in the last year and a half; he says each suffered from alcoholism.
Badger said, "There's a problem with alcoholism. It's to numb things, to become indifferent to things around them because they've had to be situationally-aware, they've had to be super-vigilant in a war zone, and they don't know how to process that. "
A supplementary aspect to the Veterans Court Treatment Program is the Veterans Mentorship Program. The mentors are there to help position for success the veterans who are enrolled in the program.
Badger explained, "A big thing in the military is about position-improvement, and that you don't run away from your problems, you don't go to some other thing, you stay where you are, and you make it a better world around you."
Latest statistics show that as many as 20 veterans take their own lives every day across the nation, and that alcohol and drugs are a major factor.
The treatment program is an intense 14-month period where veterans undergo counseling and group therapy, and must take periodic drug and alcohol tests.
The participants appear in court on a weekly basis, and will face consequences for testing positive.
Veteran-mentors, like Badger, are there to help encourage and guide the participants through the recovery, and transition back to civilian life.
"When it touches you, you know how important it is, and a lot of times you don't know what to do with it. And, I've learned the only thing I can do with it is, to not speak against it or do anything, it's just to be there, and to not waste anything, just to not waste anything, to be in the moment, not try to escape from it, but to be in the moment, and to be there for a veteran," he said.
The participants cannot graduate until they demonstrate prolonged sobriety, are gainfully employed, and have a permanent roof over their head.