HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. — The first graduate of the Hernando County Veterans' Treatment Court Program says it has saved his life.
"This is supposed to be a graduation. I don’t see it like that, I see it’s just a start," said veteran Victor Neglia.
It's a new start for Neglia who joined the U.S. Army when he was just 17-years-old.
"I had a very bad traumatic incident," said Neglia.
He was diagnosed with PTSD.
"My disability is MST, military sexual trauma. I didn’t tell that to anyone for more than 30 years," said Neglia.
Neglia says his therapy dog Simba has helped him cope, but he used prescription drugs and alcohol to numb the pain.
"I, unfortunately, started to drink while on the wrong medication and went into a blackout for two days and during that blackout I committed a crime. I stole money," said Neglia.
Last year he was arrested for grand theft and put in front of a judge. He says that's when he hit rock bottom.
"For three days, I thought about it and realized nobody did this to me but me, and that was the turning point for me," said Neglia.
Neglia was accepted into the Hernando County Veterans' Treatment Court program. A jail alternative helping veterans arrested on felony charges and suffering from mental illness or substance abuse, get the counseling and treatment they need.
"It pretty much saved my life. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the veteran’s court program," said Neglia.
The county says the mission of the Veterans’ Treatment Court Program is to promote public safety while supporting eligible veterans and their families through a coordinated effort among veterans’ services, community services, and the Court to leave no eligible veteran behind.
Contact Amy Baldwin, alternative courts coordinator, at (352) 540-6279 or go to this website for more information.