MINEOLA, NY (AP / WCBS 880) – Nassau County officials are marking Veterans Day a day early. They opened a court Thursday dedicated to cases involving former service members involved in non-violent crimes.

WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs On The Story

It is the seventh such Veterans Court in the state. Others are in Brooklyn, Queens, Buffalo, Jamestown, Rochester and Suffolk County.

The program is designed to identify nonviolent veteran offenders and provide specialized support services and treatment. The intention is to keep many of them out of jail.

Veterans who successfully complete the program may have their charges dismissed or reduced or receive a reduction in their sentence.

It’s important, says wheelchair bound ex-Marine Andrew Booth.

“Now he comes home from combat, he can adjust. This treatment they’re going to go through is probably going to be harder than serving time,” he told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.

Booth says it’s just some help to those who gave so much.

“Just a little help and a little respect,” he said.

Thursday’s dedication ceremony at the Mineola courthouse featured the New York Military Academy Marching Band and a color guard from the United States Marine Corps.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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