Six Veterans Graduate from the Greater Prince William Veterans Docket

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Prince William County is home to more than 41,000 veterans, according to the 2022 U.S. Census American Community Survey. One in every 15 veterans is in need of substance use treatment, and a significant number of veterans also live with co-occurring mental health disorders, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or Traumatic Brain Injury, according to Prince William County Senior Probation-Pretrial Officer of Criminal Justice Services Christopher Mayers.

In 2019, the Virginia Supreme Court authorized local court systems to use veterans dockets to help veterans who have become involved in the criminal justice system as a result of their unique challenges. The Greater Prince William Veterans Docket, adopted in 2019, aims to connect veterans in the program with services offered by the Veterans Administration and the Department of Veterans Services to help them achieve better legal results. 

Last week, six veterans graduated from the Greater Prince William Veterans Docket in a ceremony at the Judicial Center with Judge William E. Jarvis presiding. The docket, which lasts a minimum of one year, requires veterans to attend classes and meetings, pass regular drug tests and appear in court twice a month. If successful, veterans can put themselves in positions to have their sentences reduced or even dismissed, according to Jarvis.

Veteran U.S. Marine, Timur Oljuskin, received his graduation certificate in Jarvis’ courtroom and said he would not have made it through without the docket team, which includes representatives from the Prince William Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, public defenders, probation officers, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Justice Outreach Program and the Virginia Department of Veterans Services.

“I want to thank everybody who participates in the docket for the mercy you have shown. I lost my way, but the support and resources you provided helped me get back on the right path,” Oljuskin said.

Another graduate, who was charged with substance-related crimes, echoed OlJuskin as he thanked the team and said the program provided personal growth.

“The empathy that has been bestowed upon the veterans in this docket is amazing,” the veteran said. “The judge, as you can see, truly cares about each individual and he does treat us like individuals. Somewhere along the line, you go from being a problem solver to being the problem. I want to thank all of you for the support, the mentors, the court and the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.”

U.S. Navy Veteran Russell Newton said he succeeded in the program because he felt an obligation to Jarvis and the team.

“I didn’t want to let them down,” Newton said. “This is a way of thanking veterans for their service, but every veteran on this docket should be thanking the judge for actually taking us on and helping us. Everything that’s available through this docket, through the VA, is available and there to help you. Everyone involved wants to see our success. They are sincere in wanting to see everybody get better.”

Joe Houser, director of the U.S. Army Human Intelligence Operations Center, gave the keynote address and told his story of how he almost lost his family due to alcohol abuse and the inability to admit he had a problem. Houser, a U.S. Marine veteran, told the audience of lawyers, judges, parole officers, family and friends of how he had been selfish and was hiding the pain he felt from losing his younger brother, who died in action.

“I mention this today to all of you who are graduating today because you are an inspiration. You truly are. If you don’t think so, look to the left, the right and around the room. All these people are here because of you,” Houser said. 

Houser encouraged the veterans to look forward and not beat themselves up over the past.

“The challenge that I give you is to be the best version of yourself,” Houser said. “The only way that you can accomplish that is by helping others be the best versions of themselves. No one can be left behind... We’ve each fallen down and someone has been there to pick us up.”

In addition to receiving their program completion certificates, the graduating veterans received a challenge coin denoting their success. U.S. military members use challenge coins to mark achievements and show appreciation.

“The challenge coin itself is steeped in military history. It’s a tradition,” said Mayers. “What it really is noting that service has been done. For most veterans, it’s probably more important than the ribbons that you see.”

Mayers also thanked the volunteer mentors who are integral to the program’s success.

“This docket doesn’t exist without the mentors, and it’s the mentors our participants can confide in and talk to,” Mayers said.

U.S. Army Veteran Evan Schuler said the program saved his life

“I got in this program because I tried to kill myself. It was tough, but the support system of this court and everybody got me where I am today. I just want to thank everybody,” Schuler said.

Veterans facing charges in Prince William County General District Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and wishing to join the docket can call Mayers at 571-383-1209 or fill out a referral form. Veterans must volunteer to enter the docket.  

For more information about the program, visit Veterans Docket.  To join the Veteran Mentor Team, visit the volunteer job posting on the county’s website 


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