SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Wednesday was graduation day at the Minnehaha County Courthouse for two Sioux Falls men who completed their journey through Veterans Court. Judge Eric Johnson shared high praise for Jesse Rooks and Danny Roby.
“I just couldn’t be more proud of the hard work that the two of you put in,” Johnson said. “You’ve been exemplary models for all of us.”
Rooks and Roby graduated from this program that’s available for qualifying military veterans charged with crimes. The program requires participants to complete any treatment recommendation, and each day brings with it a 28% chance they’ll be tested for drug and alcohol use. The program lasts about two years, and there are currently 10 veterans participating.
“There’s a lot of good people in the program … lot of good influences, and it just helps you along your way,” Rooks said.
“It gave me my life back, and I’m proud of that,” Roby said.
Program coordinator Dez Kincaid is a veteran herself.
“I’ve watched them struggle and pick themselves up and grow and become a part of this community again like they used to be and become leaders in it and to find recovery,” Kincaid said.
Roby says graduation is not the end of the road; it’s a start, a commencement.
“This ain’t the end for me,” he said. “This is the beginning because now I’m doing it on my own.”
Roby served with the Army National Guard, and Rooks served with the Army Reserve. Today, they’re proud graduates.
“Very proud,” Roby said. “Yeah, that’s another thing. It makes me feel like I can accomplish things now. They gave me that encouragement back.”