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Tue, Feb. 25

Kingman Community View: From Bus Passes to Bicycle Chains

This is a story about the Kingman Veterans Treatment Court, a participating Veteran in Justice, and his advocate and battle buddy, his mentor.

In Mohave County and in America today the people understand. Since our country’s inception our brave men and women join our military services, they agree to give whatever it takes, even sacrifice their lives to protect our country and our people. Three percent of all our military personnel come back home with both visible and invisible wounds of war, having left something behind, some part of themselves that may never be the same. With PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury on top of the list of invisible wounds, our veterans struggle to reintegrate back into the community and to be once again a productive and happy member of society.

This is why the Kingman Veterans Treatment Court exists, as a problem solving court, to help reintegrate and rehabilitate those whose invisible wounds have brought them into the judicial system. Every veteran that volunteers to participate in the court is assigned a volunteer veteran sponsor, who are called mentors. The Kingman Veterans Treatment Court was established four years ago and can now boast it has helped change and improve the lives of dozens and dozens of veterans. There are many stories in our small city and this one just touches heart.

Due to confidentiality reasons, only general information can be shared. In this story a very young combat veteran reluctantly finds himself in the court setting. Unable to hold a job, provide for his own housing and with no transportation, this young veteran appears before Kingman Magistrate Judge Jeff Singer, overwhelmed and confused.

“What can we do for you?” Judge Singer asks after going through the legal procedures required to bring the veteran into this specialty court. The veteran responds “I have no transportation, my bicycle chain has broken.” Judge Singer presents the veteran with some bus passes as he looks across the courtroom to the Mentor Team. Mentor Joe Throneberry, recently promoted to one of the court’s Mentor Coordinator positions, speaks out. “I will look into getting that bicycle chain repaired,” he said.

The Kingman Veterans Treatment Court relies on several hundred established veteran resources in our community, but Mentor Joe Throneberry has taken the Kingman court to new and creative levels of ingenuity in creating resources no one would have ever thought of.

In this case Joe took the mission on in an up close and personal way. Over the next week Joe traveled the entire Mohave County Tri City area trying to locate the right link to fix this specific BMX bicycle chain. After exhaustive research and literally hundreds of miles of travel, Throneberry located the part, paid from his own pocket and repaired the chain.

The reason I bring attention to this story is what happened next. Who would have ever imagined such a simple thing as an operational 24-inch BMX bicycle would bring such appreciation and joy from this young veteran. It was obvious from first sight this young man had lost more of himself than most in serving our country. When he entered the court he could not hold his head high or keep his gaze off the floor. Soft spoken and polite, his demeanor touched all hearts in the courtroom much like a lost child. It was obvious this veteran was confused, overwhelmed, ashamed, and almost speechless and frightened, there was no trust left in him. This is a shell we often see in the veteran court. Then, due to the never-ending dedication of this judge, this special court and its 50 volunteer Mentor Team, a transformation took place.

I spoke with Mentor Joe Throneberry and he reports he has almost never seen such genuine appreciation and joy as when he witnessed this grateful, smiling, head held high, almost glowing young veteran ride off on his BMX bicycle. I could feel that joy with the intonation of Throneberry’s voice over the phone.

There is just something so magical in this story that such a small thing could bring so much overdue joy and happiness to a person. There is something more than magical, almost miraculous, when we consider that this simple act of kindness has restored hope and trust in mankind for this lost soldier. As the senior mentor coordinator of the Kingman Veterans Treatment Court I always tell the Mentor Team to never, ever forget, and never underestimate the dramatic importance of your volunteer work with our veterans. I tell them to always ask themselves, “What good comes from what I do?” My answer to them is, “It may be likely we will never truly know just how much good it has done, but the possibilities are limitless.”

What we do know is that link on this veteran’s BMX chain may be the exact link he needed back to humanity, to regain hope, trust and promise in his life. That small chain link may be the most powerful thing anyone could have done to say, “Thank You for Your Service” and to restore this young soldier’s self-esteem, purpose and relevance in life.

I think Mentor Joe Throneberry deserves a big thank you as he continues to serve his fellow man, his country, his community and the Kingman Veterans Treatment Court. Although we may never fully know the extent of the great good the court and all its volunteers do, we do know for sure the worthy mission our good Lord has put on our hearts and our passionate dedication to our motto, “Leave No Veteran Behind.”

Jim Consolato

(Consolato is senior mentor coordinator for Kingman Veterans Treatment Court)

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