After all these decades, Chief Judge Peter Weinstein still remembers the soldier.
Weinstein had served with him in the U.S. Army at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga., in the beginning of the 1970s, as the Vietnam War raged overseas. But by the time the soldier was discharged, he was an alcoholic, his rank reduced several levels, his future uncertain. He was, in many ways, the prototype of the kind of veteran the judge now hopes to help with the upcoming Broward County Veterans Court: perhaps troubled or misguided, but deserving of help back to a stable life.
"He had such a severe issue with alcohol that he once passed out on duty, and ended up being discharged. I tried to get him help but by that time it was just too late. I can't imagine what his civilian life was like,'' says Weinstein, a former Florida state senator who served as a legal officer in the Army. "I have thought of him often as we planned this court. Someone like him could have benefitted from this kind of program.''