Judge Lou Olivera doesn’t have an easy job.
Sure, it’s great to be the one to hand down justice to an unrepentant criminal or someone who poses a serious danger to society. Still, judges have hearts like anyone else and there are just as many instances where a judge like Olivera is forced to sentence someone they truly wish they could help.
Olivera, district court judge over the Veterans Treatment Court in Cumberland County, North Carolina, showed the world his kind heart after he was forced to sentence former Green Beret Joe Serna for probation violation.
As a Gulf War veteran, Olivera is no stranger to the life-altering experience of combat. He’s seen plenty, placing him in a unique position to serve both his community and his fellow servicemen as a judge.
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When Serna’s case came before him, Olivera was deeply moved.
Serna, a three-tour veteran of the war in Afghanistan and two-time Purple Heart recipient, is one of the innumerable veterans who find themselves suffering from PTSD and unable to cope back home.
For many veterans like Serna, alcohol or drugs seem to be waiting with open arms, offering false comfort and sending them on a downward spiral of self-destruction. The Veterans Treatment Court exists to serve veterans fighting this kind of battle, and it became Judge Olivera’s mission to make a difference in Serna’s life.
Serna was arrested for drunk driving a few years before this court date. One condition of his probation was that he was strictly prohibited from drinking alcohol. But when Serna lied about a recent urine test, Olivera couldn’t just let it slide.
“I gave Joe a night in jail because he had to be held accountable,” Olivera recounted to CBS.
Later on, when Serna entered his cell for the night, terrible memories came flooding back into his mind, memories of the event that sparked his PTSD.
“When I walked into the jail cell, and they closed the door behind me, I started feeling this anxiety,” Serna said. “It came back—a flashback.”
As an Army Sargent First Class, Serna survived an IED and a suicide bomber during his time in Afghanistan, but that wasn’t the event that shook him. Instead, it was a simple truck ride with three other men in his company that proved to be the most horrific event of his life.
“We were following the creek and the road gave way,” Serna recalled, tearfully, “And the vehicle went into the creek.”
As the water began rising in the truck, Serna found himself stuck and totally unable to move. The water rose up to his chin before finally subsiding and, tragically, he was the only one to leave that truck alive. Because of this incident, Serna not only suffers from PTSD, but extreme claustrophobia.
Judge Olivera, however, wasn’t finished with Serna. “I knew what Joe was going through and I knew Joe’s history. And he had to be held accountable,” Olivera said, “but I just felt I had to go with him. I felt I had to go with him.”
Within a few minutes of being locked up, Serna received the surprise of a lifetime when Judge Olivera walked through the door to join him for the night.
“We talked about our families,” Serna said, smiling. “The walls didn’t exist anymore. He brought me back to North Carolina from being in a truck in Afghanistan.”
“He is a judge, but that night, he was my battle buddy,” Serna said. “He knew what I was going through. As a warrior, he connected.”
And, just like that, Olivera, who saw his brother-in-arms struggling, lifted him up and carried him through the night, and hopefully sparked a change leading to a brighter future for Serna.
MUST SEE: Brave Alaskan Helps Baby Moose Navigate Highway Barrier
Normally, stories about moose on the highway don’t end this well.
Alaska is a state like no other. It’s still a veritably untamed place, where the weather and the wildlife are both out to get you. It takes a special kind of person to hack it in America’s last frontier. A simple run to the grocery store can be hazardous in some conditions, and just taking the garbage out at night may find you face-to-face with hundreds of pounds of brown bear. But ask any Alaskan what they hope to avoid the most, and many will tell you it’s the moose that you have to worry about. These creatures are simply enormous, and they have just enough of an attitude to be more than a nuisance when confronted. Combine that with the fact that plenty of Alaskans are killed each year after automotive collisions with these gargantuan animals, and you have a real recipe for trouble. This week, however, a different sort of moose story made headlines, and with some adorable photos to show for it. Last week, pictures of a man in Alaska lifting a moose calf over a highway guardrail were posted on Facebook. According to Andrea N Salty Bock, who posted the pictures on Facebook, the calf and its mother were near Clam Gulch, on the Kenai Peninsula. The mother was apparently trying to get her baby to go over the guardrail, but it was too tall for the calf. “Traffic stopped to give her the room she needed,” the Facebook post said. “But the calf could not clear the guardrail.” The photos were captivating. Authorities, while thankful that the moose was able to continue on its way, warned that the situation was still a dangerous one, despite the size and age of this animal.
VIRAL VIDEO: Hockey Fans Belt US National Anthem in Stirring Moment
The moment was simply magical.
For as much controversy as has been manufactured around the National Anthem, there is still nothing quite like witnessing a powerful rendition of a song that brings so many of us pride here in the United States. In the annals of sports history, there are but a few moments of anthemic joy that stand atop the list, with this author’s personal favorite being the incredibly salient and pointed version performed by Whitney Houston at the Super Bowl in 1991: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_lCmBvYMRs Now, 30 years and some months later, another unforgettable anthem moment has arrived. Nassau Coliseum was roaring with energy Wednesday night as fans in attendance belted out the National Anthem before the New York Islanders Game 6 victory over the Boston Bruins in a viral moment that is sure to give anyone chills. Nicole Raviv regularly sings “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Isles games at the Coliseum but on Wednesday night she was overpowered by the crowd, even turning over the microphone to the fans. “My heart is full. The coliseum will forever have the best backup singers in the #NHL,” Raviv wrote on Twitter. A moment like this was made for social media, and it soon spread like wildfire. https://twitter.com/NHLonNBCSports/status/1402773091672068098?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1402773091672068098%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.foxnews.com%2Fsports%2Fislanders-fans-national-anthem-viral-game-6-bruins The fans were ready, however, after a microphone glitch forced them to join in on the anthem just two games earlier.
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