Veteran’s Court Posts Another Win 1/24/19 01/24/19 10:57:03 AM
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Ron Holesko (above) talks about his experience in the Veteran’s Treatment Court and his life in the military (below). (Photo by Antone Oseka)
Veteran’s Court Posts Another Win
By Andy Roberts
The Daily Record
That evening in the fall of 2016 didn’t quite go as planned.
But that dark night put Ron Holesko on the road to a much better
place. Now he’s looking forward to his graduation from the Douglas County Veteran’s Treatment Court today. Like so many, his story began long before the problems of that night.
Holesko was raised in the Omaha metro, attended OPS schools in the southern part of the district and graduated from Bryan High. He recalls growing up with a younger sister and having a generally good experience in his youth.
“Nothing crazy, nothing too far out of line,” he said. “My father did 24 years in the Air Force ... kind of a standard middle-class existence.”
Upon graduation from high school Holesko joined the Marine Corp. It’s a course that was set a few years earlier.
“At the time of 9-11 I was ten years old,” he remembered. “I do recall seeing that (the Twin Towers attack) before going to school.”
It was a bit early for the young Holesko to enlist, but the response to 9-11 would drag on and he had seen his father do “cool stuff” like working on planes in the Air Force.
“I wasn’t really a stand-up student ... basically just skated by,” Holesko said and realized he had a few career options but he wanted to fight and protect the country. As for why he chose the Marines, he’s not certain.
“At the same time, I was a young, optimistic 18-year-old,” he said, then remembered he was only 17 when he made the decision and had to wait to sign the paperwork. “Something about being a boot on the ground appealed to me.”
The new Marine went into boot camp for three months and graduated in November of 2008 on 9/11. “I just noticed that,” he said as he reviewed the old paperwork. Following another three months of training he was given the opportunity to become an Area B crewman and do light armor reconnaissance.
Initially stationed in California, he first became a driver, then a gunner.
Deployed to Afghanistan on his parents’ anniversary 10/10/2010 in a vehicle he describes as “18 tons of twisted steel,” the vehicle wasn’t used as much as he expected but Holesko kept busy.
With his boots on the ground they cleared out areas and raided villages.
“Basically trying to seek out the Taliban,” as he put it. They looked for people who might be a threat and searched for items like large caches of fertilizer that could be used for weapons.
Holesko was there for almost 10 months in what was to be a 6-month deployment. The rest of his time in the Marines was spent preparing the next group of troops to head overseas.
Upon leaving the service, he returned to Omaha and was working Things were seemingly normal until
that evening in the fall of 2016 when he came in contact with law enforcement.
“Long story short, I stabbed a guy,” Holesko said. He had been living in a studio apartment within walking distance of his job. After a couple years at the apartment complex a neighbor was acting up, things came to a head, and Holesko said he pulled his pocket knife and stuck it in the guy’s chest.
Someone called 911 and Holesko and the other man ended up at the hospital. The stabbing victim was not cooperative with authorities, but Holesko was interviewed by a detective and arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and other charges.
A challenge coin and medals Ron Holesko earned during his tour of duty in Afghanistan. (Photo by Antone Oseka)
After contacting attorney Mike Fabian, Holesko was made aware of the Veteran’s Treatment Court.
“At the time I was thankful and nervous,” he said. “I had considered taking it to trial.”
Still, trial brought with it the possibility of a felony conviction, so he did the interview process for the Veteran’s Treatment Court and was admitted.
“It was really a pretty awesome, life-changing experience,” Holesko said. Much of the process involved paying the victim’s hospital bill – a check that he made sure went directly to the hospital.
“Once that was paid off, that was kind of the only hoop to jump through,” he said.
Holesko also went through some counseling for PTSD, something he had been doing prior to the incident. There was treatment and treatment analysis. Since he had no drug involvement, things were easier, he said.
This afternoon Holesko will re-boot his life when he graduates from the Veteran’s Treatment Court. Still relatively new, it stands as an on-going memorial to the late Judge Mark W. Ashford, who founded it. It is now overseen by District Judge James T. Gleason.
In a statement, Gleason called the court: “an integral part of the system of problem-solving courts in Nebraska. It addresses the unique needs of veterans. These men and women served our country and suffer from the effects of such service.”
Today’s class has eight members, including Holesko. Gleason said he was fortunate to work with Ashford on creating the court in Douglas County and served as his backup in the past.
“It is a signal honor for me to be his successor.,” Gleason said. “His vision for this court is borne out by the effective work the court accomplishes ... Our goal is to continue to provide our veterans with the assistance
they need in the future.”
Helping locate that assistance is the job of Problem Solving Court Coordinator Nick Lurz. He figures out how to get veterans who have offended back on track.
“It gives that second chance ... and (to) not be stuck with a felony,” Lurz said. His work allows individuals to find the treatment they need – often for PTSD – and return to their lives.
For individuals like Holesko who do what the process demands, Lurz offered, the system works remarkably
“It’s a life- and game-changer,” Holesko said, noting he watched and learned from the earlier class. He even took yoga classes and read self-help books.
Now he has plans for the future and he is excited about the possibilities as he takes on a new role.
Holesko has reconnected with his son – a boy he did not know existed until he got out of the Marines. The child resulted from a rather casual relationship and Holesko admits he has been rather bitter toward the situation.
He said the mother was not interested in trying to make things work with him so Holesko pressed on and paid child support. She has moved on and the boy is with his maternal grandparents in Nevada.
However, a relationship has developed, so far via FaceTime, and Holesko is excited about this new chapter in his life as a dad. He’s already noted the boy spends too much time with online gaming.
“I cannot wait until (graduation),” he said. “I’m hitting the road and taking a vacation for probably the first time in seven years.
“Once I graduate, I plan on going (to Nevada), finding work and raising him.”