Thurston County Connection Newsletter
Thurston County Connection
Thurston County Connection
September, 2011
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This Month's Articles

Veterans Court Celebrates First Graduate.

Veterans’ Assistance Fund Provides Help.

Treaty Tree Dedication.

Sheriff’s Quarterly Honors.

County Facilities Update:

Help with Healthy Homes!

County Employees Help with Little Red School House Drive.

Secondhand Safari!

One Wild Party!

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 Veterans Court Celebrates First Graduate.

Praise for graduate and innovative program.

To the sound of applause and the good wishes of more than a dozen people in the chamber, Floyd Purdy became the first graduate of Thurston County’s Veterans Court on July 15. At the ceremony, Presiding Judge Brett Buckley credited Purdy for working diligently for two years to stay sober, work on his education, and earn back the trust of his family.

Two years ago, Purdy had a different story to tell.

In a letter he wrote to the court, Purdy said that after combat in Iraq, he felt estranged from society, resentful, and distrustful of strangers. He struggled with alcoholism and ended up either on the streets or couch surfing. At times, Purdy would binge drink just so that he could get a healthy meal in detox. His troubles came to a head when he assaulted his wife and landed in District Court. Purdy’s family issued a restraining order against him so that he had little or no contact with his children.

At his very lowest point, Purdy found hope: He became the first defendant to enter what was then Thurston County’s new Veterans Court. The court offers a way for veterans to get a fresh start and avoid time behind bars, provided they plead guilty, follow mandated treatment programs and appear regularly in court to discuss their programs. Veterans who successfully complete the program might have their current charges dismissed or get a reduced program.

Veterans Court is available to veterans and active duty service members who have committed nonviolent crimes associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, brain injury, or another type of mental illness related to duty in a war zone. Defendants are not eligible if they are charged with serious violent crimes or their victims oppose it. Thurston County’s Veterans Court was the first such court in the state of Washington.

In Purdy’s case, Judge Buckley issued a sentence of one year in jail, minus time served, and he agreed to suspend the remaining time if Purdy complied with his treatment and other conditions. Purdy kept his promise, even taking a bus to work and riding his bike 17 miles back each day.

To Judge Buckley, a veteran himself, the court is a lifeline for the growing number of veterans and service members who suffer from war-related psychological wounds. “We send men and women in the military into harm’s way. We owe it to them to help them with invisible wounds,” he said. For Purdy, those invisible wounds are starting to heal. At the end of the July 15 graduation ceremony, Judge Buckley accepted a motion from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to dismiss all charges. Purdy’s restraining order has also been rescinded and he is now fully involved with his three children, proving that the lifeline cast by the Veterans Court is long enough to help heal the next generation.

By Laura McDowell

Floyd Purdy is all smiles at his graduation. Floyd Purdy is all smiles at his graduation.

Judge Brett Buckley has praise for progress. Judge Brett Buckley has praise for progress.