Jefferson’s Juvenile Drug Court participants meet veterans
Youth members of the Jefferson County Juvenile Drug Court program met at the Magistrate Court in Charles Town last Thursday evening to meet and learn from a few of the county’s veterans. This session of the drug court program has nine young people registered.
The program, begun in 2012, has a mission stating: “Through judicial accountability, the Eastern Panhandle Juvenile Drug Court works to reduce juvenile substance abuse and delinquent acts through a collaborative community effort and with supportive programs of intervention that work toward eliminating substance use and related problems of our area youth and their families.”
The youth came from their weekly court appearance with Judge David Greenberg and remained to hear experiences of three veterans.
Probation Officer Shannon Travis, who works with the juvenile court, shared that the participants in the court program had written two letters to veterans.
Speaking to the youth were John Sherwood, Captain, U.S. Army Medical Service Corps (1966-70); Bill Arnicar, U.S. Navy, submarine service (1988-93) and Eli Tice, Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corp (2008-10). Each of the speakers brought a different perspective of service to the group gathered.
Sherwood spoke about how much the military gave him as far as a leg up for future jobs as well as teaching responsibility. He also spoke of local organizations that support veterans where the teens could potentially volunteer, including Hospice of the Panhandle.
Arnicar shared stories of serving on a submarine, where he said, 93 percent of the year was spent at sea.
“It was a tight community,” he said. “You knew everything all your mates and their families were doing,” he continued.
Last to speak to the teens, and having a visible impact, was Jefferson County native Eli Tice who served in the Marines where he was wounded in action. Tice stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). In the accident, Tice lost his leg above the knee as well as his thumb. He explained in complete detail the accident as well as what led him to join the Marines in the first place.
He told the teens that while he had done some “stupid stuff” when he was younger and had found himself in the same courtroom where the group was gathered, he didn’t let that stop him.
“I didn’t let bad decisions define who I was,” Tice said. Always wanting to be a Marine, Tice joined with a goal of being an infantryman. He planned to make the service a career.
“I was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Tice said of the accident.
“Sometimes life requires us to be strong even when we don’t want to,” he continued, offering sage words of wisdom to the teens seated in the courtroom while simply telling his own story.
He stressed to the group that you can’t give up or look back.
“You have to be strong enough to ask for help,” Tice said. “Don’t be a ‘tough guy.’ You don’t have to depend on someone, but you can ask for help.”
Tice said that he now works as a helicopter pilot, not letting his injuries prevent him from moving forward in life.
Participants in the drug court program range in age from 10-17, with most between 14 and 17. These youth demonstrate substance abuse or high risk for abuse and are charged or can be charged with any nonviolent misdemeanor or felony crime where underlying substance abuse may be a factor or who are substance abuse offenders. The juveniles in the program are referred by the court or possibly the school system and must be accepted into the four-phase program. The youth and parents meet each week for Drug Court where they take part in counseling sessions and then enjoy a meal as they did Thursday.
For those who wish to find out more information about the Juvenile Drug Court, contact Travis at 304-728-1973.