A 'Fun'-raiser

Cooley annual benefit supports area veterans

By Debra Talcott
Legal News

Anyone looking to enjoy several fun activities and support a worthy cause in the process should set aside the evening of Sunday, June 2 as a time for both. That is when Cooley Law School will hold its 5th Annual Charity Benefit to support the Macomb County Veterans Treatment Court (MCVTC).

Cooley’s beautiful Auburn Hills Campus - Room 145 will be transformed into the perfect setting for a pizza and salad dinner with live music performed by The Cat’s Pajamas at 6 p.m. The vocal group performs a range of music that can be appreciated by listeners of all ages. Entertainment provided by comedy magician Keith Stickley will begin at 7 p.m. Stickley has delighted audiences from Chicago to Las Vegas to Hong Kong.

The fun will continue with an auction of numerous items that promise future good times. Many of the items or experiences that have proved popular in earlier years will be back again in hopes of generating a bidding war to raise funds for the Treatment Court. Assistant Dean Lisa Halushka says the wide array of auction items covers just about any area of interest.

“We will have rounds of golf and tickets for Tigers, Red Wings, Pistons, and Michigan Wolverine football games,” says Halushka. “Supporters can win restaurant dinners, dinner at the home of a favorite professor or dean, guitar lessons, physical training sessions, a zoo tour, a signed Pistons basketball, and more. The number of donations from the kind generosity of Cooley staff and area businesses and sporting venues is testimony to the worthiness of this cause. Besides that, it’s a wonderful opportunity to come enjoy an evening of great entertainment.”

The MCTVC’s mission is to treat the underlying issues that brought the veteran into the criminal justice system. Substance abuse issues, mental health issues, or physical problems related to their military service may have led to the veterans’ criminality. A team of professionals, including a judge, case manager, assistant prosecutor, defense attorney, probation officer, and veterans outreach officer, works in a non-adversarial manner to treat those issues that brought the veteran into the program. The goal is to support the veteran so that he or she will return to being a productive member of the community.

Gail Pamukov-Miller, immediate past president of the Macomb County Bar Association, is the president of The Friends of the Macomb County Veterans Treatment Court. This nonprofit group works to raise money to support the mission of the court. She explains the various ways funds may be used.

“Many veterans do not have a driver’s license or even adequate food. The nonprofit may be asked to purchase bus passes or food, if necessary, for the veteran. Drug testing in the program is intense, frequent, and costly. Sometimes veterans need 24/7 alcohol monitoring. The nonprofit would like to assist veterans with these costs on an as-needed basis. At graduation from the program, the non-profit will fund the challenge coin presented to the veteran to recognize effort and success. Funds may also be used for team education, another requirement of the Veterans Treatment Court.”

A final component of the MCVTC program is that each participating veteran is assigned a veteran mentor who serves as a positive role model. John Walus, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, coordinates the Veterans Mentor Program in Macomb County. He assigns a veteran mentor from the same branch of service as the participant to provide support during the program.

“No one can talk to a veteran like a veteran can,” says Walus.