Hillsborough judge goes above and beyond to help veterans in trouble with the law

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – They raise their hands and swear to God to support, protect, and defend our constitution, putting their lives on the line for our freedom, but many of our military members come home broken.

“It’s our obligation both ethically morally and legally to help them,” said Judge Gregory Holder, who hears cases in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit of Hillsborough County.

Judge Holder played a critical role in growing what is now the nation’s largest Veteran’s Treatment Court (“VTC’) in the country and it serves as a successful model for the rest of the country.

“We save this county millions of dollars in incarceration costs because we have an 83 percent success rate,” Holder said.

Holder has a soft spot in his heart for helping veterans as a decorated military veteran himself and a family lineage of serving.

“My father served in World War II and the Korean war for 21 and a half years, my mother, Alice Holder was airman second class. My wife served in both the Army and the Air Force 23 and a half years active duty and retired lieutenant colonel,” Holder said. “I served 29 years, eight years with special operations command with those men and women, and then eight years as a military judge and other services as engineer and JAG (Judge Advocate General’s Corps), and now our son serves and is a major in the United States Air Force and has his own combat experience having been rocketed and mortared in Kandahar, Afghanistan in his year of combat service. So we are dedicated and so appreciative of these men and women.”

The Veteran’s Treatment Court offers alternatives to case proceedings that address underlying problems that contribute to criminal activity or other court involvement. In an effort to avoid jail time, veterans are paired with volunteer mentors.

“A battle buddy, if you will, to help them through those rough patches to maintain communication to make sure they get to their appointment – in many cases take money out of the mentors own pockets to buy them a bus pass, to help with food, to help with furniture,” Holder said. “I can’t tell you furniture my daughter and I have donated to veterans to help them just establish a home, which is really the foundation for any rehabilitative effort.”

In addition to helping veterans facing legal hurdles, Holder also mentors and helps individuals wanting to join the military academy, he finds work for veterans, most recently visiting SHRM, the Society of Human Resource Management professionals in Tallahassee.

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