August 3, 2017 at 9:38 am

Veterans Treatment Court Project Gets Ready to Screen Video

From the Veteran Treatment Court Photography and Video Project Newsletter

The Veterans Treatment Court Photography & Video Project is a partnership between the Sociology & Anthropology Department and the School of Visual Communications at Ohio University.

Dr. Ursula Castellano, Associate Professor of Sociology at Ohio University, began a pilot photography study on Veterans Treatment Courts by giving cameras to court participants and asking them to document their lives. Her original study has since evolved into a multi-media project on veterans and the courts.

“We are excited to update you on our progress,” says Castellano. “As of January 2017, the project is partially funded by the Ohio State Bar Foundation. We recently completed production on our 12-minute public education video which profiles four veterans: two Veterans Treatment Court graduates, one veteran with no access to a Veterans Treatment Court, and one veteran with no criminal justice involvement. They all tell important stories about the types of traumas that service persons experience (before, during and after the military) and why some become justice involved. We hope this video will be used to improve both criminal justice and health outcomes for all veterans.”

Project Goals

  • Give veterans a voice to tell who they are and what they experienced.
  • Raise awareness that justice-involved veterans face unique challenges after discharge.
  • Promote Veterans Treatment Courts.

Meet the Video Participants

“We have recruited men and women who represent the diversity of the veteran population. We are honored to work with our participants, Billy, Chris, Andrea and Steve, and thank them for sharing their stories,” says Castellano, noting that the participants are referred to by their first names only.

“Never give up, never quit.” – Billy

“Sometimes you need help.” – Chris

“Something has to change.” – Andrea

“Listen to us.” – Steve

Meet New Project Team Members

The project welcomes Jan Sonnenmair to the project. She is a professional photographer and visual communications consultant based in Portland, OR. She joined the team in February during her 2016-17 Knight Fellowship for Visual Communication at Ohio University.

Babz Jewell has been an incredible asset as the project’s production assistant. In addition to her work as a visual artist and sociology graduate student, she brings technical, photographic and production talents to the team.

Al Nelis has served as the research assistant and veteran mentor for this project from its inception. He helps with recruiting and transportation, and brings a welcome sense of humor. “We would be lost without him,” notes Castellano.

David Edwards, Sr. (SMSgt – E-8 Retired, USAF; M.Ed.), Director of the Veterans and Military Student Services at OHIO, joined the team in March. He is a key adviser and an invaluable source of support and great ideas. He is also helping the project to meet its fundraising goals.

What’s Next?

Evaluate and Disseminate Video

In early Fall, the project plans to screen a rough cut of the video to treatment team members, mentors, and participants in a Veterans Treatment Court in Ohio. The feedback will be instrumental in making the final revisions. The video will be ready for broad dissemination throughout Ohio by the end of 2017. It will target veteran and active military populations, legal and Veterans Affairs professionals as well as general audiences.

Revise Promotional Veterans Treatment Court Video

In November 2016, the project completed a 10-minute rough cut of a promotional video for Veterans Treatment Courts, titled “Back to the Light” for future production. It was screened at two venues and received useful feedback for improvement. While this video will not be ready for statewide dissemination, project members will raise additional funds to complete it next year. “If you would like to view the promotional rough cut, please email me at We will gladly send you a DVD or web link for the video,” adds Castellano.

Forthcoming Article on Veterans Treatment Courts in Ohio Lawyer

An article about the Hamilton County Municipal Veterans Treatment Court, “The Honorable Judge Melissa Powers: Judging Therapeutically in a Veterans Treatment Court,” by Castellano and Dana Scott, will appear in the summer issue of Ohio Lawyer. Please email for a copy.


The project gratefully acknowledges the friends and supporters of the Veterans Treatment Court Photography and Video Project: Melissa Knopp, Esq., The Honorable Justice Evelyn Stratton (Retired), Elma Walker (VA-Chillicothe), The Honorable Judge George McCarthy, The Honorable Judge Robert Milich, The Honorable Melissa Powers, The Honorable Judge Taryn Heath, Lisa Williams (Stark County Honors Court, Director), The Honorable Judge Jerry Ault, Dan Trout (Fishmonger Media), Dana Scott (OHIO Southern-Nursing), Eric Lockmer (Department of Defense), Matt Roberts (OHIO Office of Development), Josh Birnbaum (OHIO Visual Communication), David Thomas (OHIO School of Film), David Wexler (Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Law at Arizona), Michael Perlin (Professor of Law Emeritus at New York Law School), Tom Smith (Amvets Post 76, Athens), J.P. Brown III (Amvets Post 44, Struthers), Kathi Trawver (University of Alaska, Anchorage), Dr. Kate Enger (Athens Municipal Court). Ohio State Bar Foundation, and at Ohio University, the Sociology & Anthropology Department, College of Arts & Sciences, Center for Law, Justice & Culture, and Office of Sponsored Research.

Please forward this newsletter to any individuals or organizations who might be interested in this work.

Contact the Project

Ursula Castellano
Associate Professor of Sociology
Ohio University
Bentley Annex 119
Athens, OH 45701

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