This is judge Lou Olivera, and he was at his wit’s end with one man who had come before him for the 26th time due to alcohol abuse, parole violations, and a slew of other charges stemming from his PTSD. He wanted the man to straighten up his act, but couldn’t seem to get through to the man who continually appeared before the frustrated judge.Joseph Serna is a former Special Forces member who came home after three tours in Afghanistan. He has PTSD and found solace in alcohol, but was unable to balance his needs and function in society. He isn’t the only one to find himself in front of this judge as many veterans struggle with PTSD and end up in the court system as a result.
Judge Olivera sentenced Serna to 24 hours in jail, but then he did something incredible…he drove Olivera to the jail, and shortly after Serna was locked away in his cell, the door opened and Olivera walked in to join him. The judge planned to spend the night with Serna. They talked as father and son, and not as a judge talking down to someone who made a mistake.
I am here to climb out with you.” The judge told the struggling veteran, referring to the “hole” that Serna had found himself in.
His compassion for the veteran has put him in the spotlight. He wants to help veterans get back on their feet and understand that the transition from being at war to living in society is almost impossible for some. He hopes to help many more veterans find their place again in society.