How A Combat Veteran Is Overcoming Suicide Attempts Via Special Court

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Dana Harvey joined the U.S. Navy when he was only 19-years-old. Harvey was excited for his future and wanted to do something that would make both him and his family proud. However when Harvey finally came home after his military service it was his experience and memories of his time in service that began to haunt him.

Not long after he had returned home, Harvey admitted,

“I had become real depressed and was drinking a lot and kept having nightmares, like war dreams and night shakes,” he said. “I had a little bit of survivor’s guilt, they tell me. I guess that’s true. I ended up attempting suicide. Actually I attempted it a few times. Six times.”

Harvey was seen by the Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Harvey’s VA center was quick to teach him techniques to deal with his depression. However Harvey did not stop medicating with alcohol.

combat veteran

In the mid summer of 2014, Harvey’s relationship with alcohol took a dark turn. On a night he was taking care of his young daughter Gwendalynn, Harvey drank to excess to the point that he blacked out and became unresponsive.

Due to this incident, Harvey was charged with fourth degree child abuse, which could mean up to one full year in jail.

However because of his specific situation, Harvey was offered a second chance.

He was specifically selected for Muskegon County’s Veterans Treatment court. This court is different from most as it is a specialty court that focuses on high-risk, high-need combat veterans from any branch of the armed forces.

All veterans are required to complete a five-phase program that lasts 18-months. The program is designed to enforce recovery, sobriety, and stability rather than focus on punishment.

These veteran focused courts are relatively new but are growing quickly in Michigan. Governor Rick Snyder called the stat the “nation model” in 2015.

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