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War veterans proposing a treatment court for Brown County

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BROWN COUNTY, Texas - Two Brown County residents are preparing to present the idea of a veterans treatment court to county officials early next year.

Larry Pullian and Eddie Gomez are both leading the charge to create such a program. They said a treatment court would adequately address the mental health disabilities veterans in the criminal justice system face, disabilities that both said plays a contributing factor to incarceration.

"Unfortunately we have had two suicides out of our group," Pullian said. "It makes you realize we're dealing with a pretty serious situation."

Pullian served in the Army's Special Forces during the Vietnam War and received two purple hearts.

He met Gomez while attending a weekly Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder meeting.

Gomez served in the Marine Corps during the Gulf War, and upon returning to Brownwood, he said he dealt with panic attacks and being easily provoked.

"I can tell you that I had a very hard time," Gomez said. "If it hadn't been for the veterans, I had a very hard time adjusting when I first got out."

Gomez said veterans in the criminal justice system don't receive the treatment that rehabilitates them. He said the proposed program is known for reducing the rates of vets getting in trouble with the law again.

Brownwood lawyer Aaron Seymour represented decorated Army war veteran Josh Stovall in court last week.

Stovall fought in Operation Enduring Freedom, and military records showed he was honorably discharged after sustaining combat-related injuries in Iraq.

Stovall was sentenced by the 35th Judicial District Court to six years in prison and 10 years' probation, which includes treatment from the VA for his PTSD and traumatic brain injury.

"This should involve consequences, but it should also involve treatment," Seymour said.

Gomez stresses treatment is the most important factor for helping veterans become positive contributors to society upon their release from prison.

"Wars don't go away and neither do warriors, unless you send them to prison, and nobody learns anything like that," Gomez said.

Pullian cautions that the veterans treatment court isn't a get-out-of-jail free card. He said each potential participant would be thoroughly vetted to make sure it would work for them.

"I tell you what, that helping hand when you need it is priceless. It is priceless," Pullian said.

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