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A North Carolina judge had to sentence a veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to jail for a probation violation. It was what he did next that’s capturing national attention.

WTVD-TV reports that District Court Judge Lou Olivera joined the former Green Beret in jail for his overnight sentence.

Olivera told the news station that he spent the time speaking with retired Sgt. Joe Serna in the one-person jail cell, which benefited both of them. He explained: “When they close that door, it’s really, you are shut off. I had a more palatable understanding of the issues Joe was going through.”

The judge administers a veteran’s treatment court at the Cumberland County courthouse. WTVD-TV said the former soldier, who served three tours in Afghanistan, admitted to Olivera that he lied in court.

Serna developed PTSD during the war, which threw the decorated veteran’s life out of control when he returned home. The turmoil in his life included a DWI charge.

Olivera, a Gulf War veteran, explained that his court is about honesty and accountability. He therefore had no other choice but to lock up Serna for lying to the court. But the program is also about compassion and helping veterans get their lives in order.

The judge told WTVD-TV that he had concerns about how isolation would affect Serna’s PTSD.



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