The Harnett County Veterans Treatment Court celebrated five years of service to those who have served the country in a special ceremony Wednesday afternoon.
U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis joined local government and judicial leaders to celebrate the court’s anniversary. The court was founded five years ago under the guidance of District Attorney Vernon Stewart, Clerk of Court Marsha Johnson and then-Chief District Court Judge Andy Corbett.
The court is a program of treatment lasting several months and is open to anyone who served in the military and is in need of court services — not just residents of Harnett County. It draws people from as far away as Morehead City.
The Harnett County Veterans Treatment Court was the first of its kind in North Carolina when it opened in 2013. Since that time similar courts have opened in Buncombe and Cumberland counties.
Sen. Tillis said he made time in his schedule for Wednesday’s celebration after a late night watching election returns Tuesday.
“I would never miss an opportunity like this to celebrate our veterans,” Sen. Tillis said. “We have to do more for our veterans. One of my goals is to let more people know about programs like this.”
Current Chief District Court Judge Jackie Lee now presides over the court each week. She welcomed Sen. Tillis to the court Wednesday.
“This is a momentous day for us in our court,” Judge Lee said. “We have a senator here and we have a wedding.”
Sen. Tillis presented a certificate of completion to veteran Mark Davis who is one of the most recent graduates of the court.
Mr. Davis emphasized how important the program is in the lives of participants.
“This court has done nothing but good for me,” Mr. Davis said. “It supported me at a time in my life when I needed it.”
The director of the court, Mark Teachey, also spoke and said he feels the court has been a success.
“We started this court because veterans have needs that have to be addressed,” Mr. Teachey said. “I think we have been successful at doing that.”
Wedding is part of anniversary
Prior to the anniversary of the court, one of the participating veterans was married in the courtroom. Hallitt Moore married his now wife, Kristie, with friends, family and other court participants watching. Mr. Moore chose to hold the court as his wedding venue because he said his life was changed there.
“They helped me get a job and maintain my sobriety and the court helped me with my mental health,” Mr. Moore said. “I wanted to give the court the honor of having my wedding here.”
The normally stoic courtroom came alive with the sounds of celebration as the couple celebrated their love and the beginning of their new life together.
Mr. Moore first served in the U.S. Army before transferring to the U.S. Navy in 1992. Mr. Moore slowly found himself in trouble and in need of services provided by Veterans Treatment Court.
His mother, Joyce, said she also appreciated the court’s service to her son.
“This is just a nice ceremony,” Mr. Moore’s mother, Joyce, said. “This court has done a lot to help my son and it is a good place to have his wedding.”
Several public officials joined Sen. Tillis at the event. They included County Commissioners Barbara McKoy and Gordon Springle, Sheriff Wayne Coats, County Manager Paula Stewart and Assistant County Manager Brian Haney. Judge Corbett was also on hand to celebrate the court where he presided before his retirement.