The complexity of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can be challenging to navigate. However, one of the people who intricately understands that challenge is Craig Stewart, court coordinator with the Sheboygan Area Veterans Treatment Court.
“Being a large, government-operated department, the process to get benefits doesn’t always make sense,” Stewart said. “As an advocate to these veterans I have to make sure they understand what’s going on and feel comfortable with how they are receiving care from the VA.
“I have to make sure the VA is offering everything a veteran is entitled to. Being a veteran myself, I want to make sure they are getting the information I would want to get if it was me looking for assistance,” he added.
Stewart and his colleagues keep the Veterans Court running efficiently by tracking all of the participants, recording and distributing weekly reports and noting phase advancements. He answers inquiries about the court from attorneys, veterans and family members.
“Not only does Craig keep our veterans court team updated on participants, applicants and potential veteran defendants, he is responsible for communicating with attorneys, treatment providers and original criminal court judges regarding graduations, terminations, sanctions and other significant events,” said Sheboygan County Judge Angela Sutkiewicz.
Working with veterans in the court system can be very rewarding, Stewart said, especially when you see them taking steps to improve their lives.
“Some of the participants are so far from the person they were when they started their military journey. They are uncomfortable in court, they keep to themselves, have relapses,” Stewart said.
“Then you start to see them getting more comfortable in front of people and helping new veteran participants with the court process. I’m able to see them become leaders again,” Stewart noted.