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Texas judge takes specialized court for veterans on the road

  • In this Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016 photo, U.S. Army Veteran Richard Ress, right, speaks during a bible group meeting at his rural church in Grayson County, Texas. Ress participates in a traveling veterans court with Judge John Roach Jr. The traveling court serves veterans in five counties near Dallas who don’t have transportation. Veterans say the opportunity is life-changing.  (AP Photo/LM Otero)

    In this Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016 photo, U.S. Army Veteran Richard Ress, right, speaks during a bible group meeting at his rural church in Grayson County, Texas. Ress participates in a traveling veterans court with Judge John Roach Jr. The traveling court serves veterans in five counties near Dallas who don’t have transportation. Veterans say the opportunity is life-changing. (AP Photo/LM Otero)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 photo, Judge John Roach Jr., left, speaks to a lawyer during a hearing in McKinney, Texas. Rather than requiring veterans to travel to court appearances, Roach Jr.’s court travels to them. The traveling court serves veterans in five counties near Dallas who don’t have transportation. Veterans say the opportunity is life-changing. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

    In this Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 photo, Judge John Roach Jr., left, speaks to a lawyer during a hearing in McKinney, Texas. Rather than requiring veterans to travel to court appearances, Roach Jr.’s court travels to them. The traveling court serves veterans in five counties near Dallas who don’t have transportation. Veterans say the opportunity is life-changing. (AP Photo/LM Otero)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016 photo, U.S. Army Veteran Richard Ress, right, speaks while he volunteers at his rural church in Grayson County, Texas. Ress participates in a traveling veterans court with Judge John Roach Jr. The traveling court serves veterans in five counties near Dallas who don’t have transportation. Veterans say the opportunity is life-changing.  (AP Photo/LM Otero)

    In this Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016 photo, U.S. Army Veteran Richard Ress, right, speaks while he volunteers at his rural church in Grayson County, Texas. Ress participates in a traveling veterans court with Judge John Roach Jr. The traveling court serves veterans in five counties near Dallas who don’t have transportation. Veterans say the opportunity is life-changing. (AP Photo/LM Otero)  (The Associated Press)

A Texas judge is doing something novel in the relatively new world of courts designed specifically for military veterans.

Rather than requiring veterans to travel to court appearances, John Roach Jr.'s court travels to them. The traveling court serves veterans in five counties near Dallas who don't have transportation. Veterans say the opportunity is life-changing.

The judge says the court is a first of its kind. He hopes it will be replicated in other rural areas without public transportation, where getting to hearings can be a challenge.

The three-phase program requires substance-abuse treatment, drug and alcohol testing, therapy, mentoring and community service. If veterans graduate, their criminal charges are dismissed and their arrest records destroyed.