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A new judge will soon be heading up the York County Court of Common Pleas veterans court.

Judge John S. Kennedy will take over the treatment court as its founder, Judge Craig T. Trebilcock, is being deployed for a year overseas with the U.S. Army, said Paul Crouse, the county court administrator.

"He (Kennedy) saw a need and graciously volunteered for this additional duty assignment because he believes so strongly in the effectiveness of treatment courts and the debt we all owe to those who have served their country," Crouse said.

Treatment courts: The veterans court is one of four York County treatment courts, intended to divert people from jail and address the causes of criminal behavior. The county started with a drug-abuse treatment court in 1997 and has expanded to include DUI court, mental health court and the veterans program.

Although Kennedy isn't a veteran, he does have vast experience in the three other treatment courts at the judicial center.

"Certainly there's no substitute to combat experience," he said. "I think it would be preferable to have a veteran."

But Kennedy said he's up for the job.

Training: Throughout the years, Kennedy, who was elected to the bench in 1995 and was most recently retained this month, has gone through four sets of training sessions in order to serve in the treatment courts.

Kennedy also received training in trauma care, which will help when working with veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, he said.

He also received some reading material from Trebilcock that may come in handy.

His fellow judge left him a copy of the 300-page book "Once a Warrior — Always a Warrior," which has been touted as a handbook to working and living with combat veterans.

"I'm happy to do it," Kennedy said of his new assignment. "I'll do my best."

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.

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