Eight men graduated this morning from the Allegheny County Veterans Court program.
In its third year, the program supervised by Judge John A. Zottola is designed to offer a complement of services to veterans facing criminal charges, including mental health counseling, drug and alcohol treatment, and assistance in finding work and housing. If completed successfully, the veterans can have their records expunged or avoid jail time.
As part of the 90-minute ceremony, former Steelers running back and Vietnam veteran Rocky Bleier, spoke about courage and making good choices.
He recalled being in an Army field hospital in Tokyo after he'd been injured in combat and receiving a postcard from Steelers owner Art Rooney.
It said, "'The team's not doing well. We need you.'"
The note made him feel needed and gave him inspiration.
He told the veterans they have two choices in life: do less or do more.
"Do more with what you have," Mr. Bleier said. "Do more with where you are. Become a model. Opportunity exists in Veterans Court."
He credited the program for reassuring the veterans that there are others who have been through it who can help.
"We didn't leave you behind," he said. "It's your choice to move forward today."
Paula Reed Ward: email@example.com or 412-263-2620.