Veteran mentor honored for work in drug treatment court

A Marine Corps veteran graduated from drug treatment court Wednesday afternoon with the help of the Lycoming County program’s first volunteer veteran mentor coordinator.

Mike McMunn, a Vietnam War-era Army veteran, received a certificate of appreciation from Lycoming County President Judge Nancy Butts for his work with Seth B., who was the first of two to graduate Wednesday.

“I can’t believe it’s been a year,” Seth B. said, addressing others in the program. “It went quick, especially when you do what you’re supposed to do.”

Butts called McMunn, of Williamsport, a “true volunteer,” as the county does not have enough resources or enough veterans in the program to justify a separate treatment court specifically for them, as some other counties do.

After receiving the certificate, McMunn said he became interested in mentoring someone when he heard about successful drug courts for veterans elsewhere.

“We need mentors,” he said.

McMunn’s role as a mentor is about staying in contact with veterans in the program and being there for them whenever they need him, he later told the Sun-Gazette.

“Ideally, there would be mentors from all branches of the military,” he said. “So you can have that bond, not just to spread the workload, but so those in the program can better identify with their mentors.”

As the volunteer veteran mentor coordinator, McMunn is tasked with seeking out other veterans who might serve in treatment court. His hope is that younger veterans from more recent wars will stand up to the challenge, but that it can be time consuming, and many young veterans have jobs and families to tend to.

“I’m retired,” he said. “I have the time to do this.”

Seth B. was the second person to graduate under McMunn’s mentorship. The first graduated in February. On Wednesday, he was put in touch with another veteran in the program.

Bob, a Vietnam War veteran, spoke about his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, and drug and alcohol abuse.

“I felt like drinking yesterday,” Bob said, before acknowledging how treatment court and time in state prison have helped him. “I don’t have to lie anymore. I can look people straight in the eye. I know now the only person I was getting over on was me.”