Coming Home: Justice for our veterans

An alternative court program in Harris County, Texas, seeks to rehabilitate veterans who turn to crime for the first time

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Kevin Thomas: I was angry about unfinished business in Iraq. I wanted to go back in. I was angry of the way I viewed the world now. I was angry of people taking for granted the liberty of freedom. We give too many civilians the benefit of the doubt that they should understand and they should know, but they don't know what the world is really like and how Iraq really was.

Marc Carter: Kevin Thomas. Another Marine. How are you, sir?

Kevin Thomas: Outstanding, sir.

Marc Carter: I just want to tell you, it takes a lot of courage to go back in there and face those monsters.

Kevin Thomas:Yes, sir.

Marc Carter: Good job, sir.

Every two weeks, the vet reports to the judge. Troublemakers are kicked out and sent to the regular probation system. But there haven't been many of those, only nine out of 100 vets so far.

Because of that, veterans' courts like this have sprung up in 27 states. There are 100 already with another 100 planned.

Marc Carter: Mr. White, how are you sir?

White: Grateful.

Marc Carter: I've heard that you've made some very smart choices lately, some very smart choices. That shows me that you understand the slippery slope that you stand on.

Marc Carter to Arthur Davis: How are you? You're looking good as always!

Arthur Davis, looking at 20 years for assault was one of the first vets in Carter's program. He hasn't had a drink in two years. And his arrest is gone from his record.

Arthur Davis to new vet: You got your whole support system here, you got your therapist you got your probation officer...

The old first sergeant is back, working with vets new to the court.

Arthur Davis: It put me back in a leadership position. The veterans' court, they prescribed a nice detailed pattern of what you needed to do in order to get on board. And it works.

Scott Pelley: You had structure again.

Arthur Davis: I had structure again.

Scott Pelley: Just like you had in the Marine Corps.

Arthur Davis: Yes, sir. I have to live this life. I can live it angry, locked up in prison, in jail or dead. Or, I can get myself together and be a positive role model for those other veterans coming home from this war.

Kevin Thomas, facing ten years in jail, instead, is set to graduate from the vet program this spring. The court even helped him get into college. Now he's rebuilding the trust of his ex-wife and his sons.

In the Marines, Thomas swore to defend the country from all enemies. It appears he's made good on that oath including the enemy within.

Scott Pelley: What was it that scared you enough to become involved in the veterans' court program?

Kevin Thomas: I didn't like the person I was.

Scott Pelley: Were you afraid you were going to lose the boys?

Kevin Thomas: Yes.

Scott Pelley: You know, we were with you when you took the boys out for ice cream the other day. And one of them asked you, "What was it like in the Marines?" When he's a little bit older, what are you going tell him about your experience?

Kevin Thomas: I'm going to tell him that my experience and my career in the Marines was great. It's the best thing I ever did in my life. Sorry. It's the best thing I ever did in my life.