Army sending York County judge overseas for a year


The U.S. Army will send York County Common Pleas Judge Craig T. Trebilcock overseas for a year to help battle terrorism, according to the judge.

He said he'll be mobilized sometime in November, and isn't allowed to say where he's being sent.

"What I can say is that it's a call-up for duty overseas, in support of the war on terrorism," he said.

Trebilcock, 55, holds the rank of colonel and has served in the Army and Army Reserve for more than 27 years, including in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

"It's interesting that this is all coming together today. It's kind of poignant," he said on Friday, the 14th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. "I'm energized by the opportunity to go serve again. These wars overseas have been going on for so long that sometimes they fade, for many people, to the back of their memory ... or to the back of the newspaper. But we're still fighting for the same thing."

Trebilcock returned to his judicial duties on June 8 after completing a 10-month senior-office course on strategic thinking at the Army War College in Carlisle.

"When I graduated from the War College in June, I incurred a two-year service obligation," he said. "The Army has decided it needs my services for a period of 12 months overseas. ... My area of training and expertise is in what's called 'rule of law operations,' which is working with our allies to help them develop and sustain legitimate legal institutions, and working with allies on training related to law-of-war issues."

Judicial shortage: Trebilcock's mobilization will leave York County's 15-judge bench with 12 active judges, and that's after the election of two new judges in November, according to a news release from Paul Crouse, court administrator for York County.

"I recognize it's going to be a strain on my colleagues on the bench, and a trying time for my family," the judge said. "One of the first concerns I had when I got the news was making sure the veterans court was taken care of."

Trebilcock oversees the county's veterans treatment court. Treatment courts are designed to keep offenders out of prison and to help them become productive citizens by addressing the roots of their problems, rather than simply locking them up.

"Two of my brethren on the bench have already indicated their willingness to step up and (take over)," he said. "So that is a great relief."

The judge said he intends to resume his veteran-court duties when he returns from his overseas assignment.

"I imagine I will gain even additional insight by being on the ground ... into some of the stressors that our young veterans are dealing with," he said.

Support needed: Trebilcock said when a judge is deployed for duty, it gets a lot of attention.

"But here in central Pennsylvania, younger National Guard and Reserve troops have been called up every week," he said. "I think it's important for the community to support all of those Reservists and National Guardsman — whether they're judges or working behind the counter at Rutter's or working on the line at a factory — and give them the recognition and support that they need."

That support must extend to soldiers' families as well, Trebilcock said.

"By doing that, it makes it so much easier for them to come home," he said. "And then we can hopefully reduce the number of young veterans who wind up in Judge Trebilcock's veterans court."

Heavy burden: Because the United States has only a small standing Army despite fighting multiple conflicts, the burden on Reservists and National Guardsman has been a heavy one, according to the judge.

"If you're in the Guard or Reserve you better not get too comfortable (at home)," he said.

Trebilcock's military service also includes a 1997 peacekeeping mission in the Balkans, a three-year tour of duty in West Germany that began in 1988, and a number of short tours to Africa, where he gave rule-of-law training to U.S. allies, according to Crouse's news release.

The judge expects that Year Two of his commitment will be stateside and won't further disrupt his judicial duties, the release states.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at