Of service to those who serve

Author: Carol Schaal

Through his work as a lawyer in the Army, says Captain J. Patrick Robinson ’05, “I have both prosecuted and defended soldiers whose mental health or substance abuse problems played a substantial role in their misconduct.”

Robinson also had seen the growth of Veterans Treatment Courts throughout the country, and he liked what those courts could offer: treatment and community support instead of punishment to veterans with mental health issues who commit certain offenses.

Those courts, however, were in state jurisdictions. So Robinson, a special assistant U.S. attorney at Fort Hood, Texas, became part of a team that developed the first veterans’ treatment court at a U.S. military base. The Fort Hood VETS Court, for Veterans Endeavor for Treatment and Support, was launched this January; as of late May, three veterans were receiving counseling and treatment as part of the initiative.

“This is not a get-out-of-jail-free card,” Robinson told WKBU public radio. Strict guidelines apply, including 12 to 18 months of intensive treatment and court supervision. But community support also plays a hand, as volunteer veteran mentors offer counsel and encouragement to enrollees during their rehabilitation process.

For Robinson, whose father, grandfather, three uncles and a great-uncle all served in the military, the VETS program speaks to an effort to assist those in need who have answered the nation’s call. For those in the program, he says, “I hope . . . they know that regardless of a mistake or misjudgment, their fellow veterans and their country will not leave them behind.”

His hope doesn’t end there. The prosecutor would like the criminal justice system as a whole to consider programs that provide “evidence-based alternatives to mass incarceration.”

When you read this, David Roth ’91 and Kevin Winton should be somewhere in Colorado. Either that or one or the other of them is injured or too sore to move or has come to his senses and decided a 3,091 mile walk across America was a stupid idea and their Route for the Brave project has ended early.

It’s doubtful that last possibility will occur. When Indianapolis residents Roth, a police officer, and Winton, an 8th grade math teacher, set out on their walk from Atlantic City, New Jersey, to San Francisco on April 28, they focused not on the fearsome physical demands they faced but on the purpose of their trip.

“If the why is strong enough, the how will work itself out,” Roth wrote in his blog.

The why-they-are-doing-this is straightforward: The duo is raising money to help veterans. Specifically, they are seeking donations for a project by Helping Hands for Freedom, a nonprofit that plans to build a retreat home for military families. The House of Healing will include living space for up to six military families who are in need of respite and offer counseling services for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Locations being considered for the center include sites in Kentucky, Arizona and Indiana.

Roth, chairman of the Phoenix-based Helping Hands for Freedom charity, has said he became interested in the fund-raising idea of a walk across the country when his stepson returned from a fifth military deployment. “To me it’s not about the walking,” Roth said on Indianapolis’ Hammer and Nigel radio show in April, “it’s about soldiers’ families.”

Follow Roth and Winton at Routeforthebrave.org.

This August, FOX Sports analyst and former ND and NFL quarterback Brady Quinn ’07 and his wife, former Olympic gymnast Alicia Sacramone Quinn, will welcome their first child. But that’s not the only family project Alicia raves about on her Twitter feed. She also frequently shares news about what the pair’s foundation, 3rd & Goal — Veterans Home Aid, is accomplishing these days.

Inspired by Brady’s father, Ty Quinn, a Vietnam veteran, the couple launched the charity in 2010 to assist veterans facing homelessness and those requiring home improvements in order to make their houses more accessible. Since its inception, the agency has aided more than 25 veterans and their families with a variety of home renovations and such gifts as a trained service dog, a washer and dryer, and an HVAC system.

This past April, the Notre Dame Club of Columbus again teamed up with Ohio native Brady Quinn for 3rd & Goal’s annual charity golf outing at the Golf Club of Dublin, Ohio. The event is one of the primary fundraisers for the charity whose officers, including CFO Brian Veith ’07, receive no salary for their work, says Qunn.

Carol Schaal is managing editor of this magazine.