Nebraska wants to keep veterans out of jail. Other states may follow.

Facing his fifth drunk driving offense in 25 years, Robert Jackson of Olathe, Kansas, was given a choice: go to court and take a possible jail sentence, or commit to a diversion program that keeps military veterans out of jail.

Jackson didn’t hesitate to take the option that would wipe the DUI from his record. After all, he’d been through U.S. Marine Corps boot camp and Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War, developing the grit that earned him salesman of the year for seven years straight at his job. How hard could a diversion program be?

“I mean, it was intense. It was not a cake walk,” Jackson said.

Those seeking to get at-risk military veterans the help they need say a new Nebraska law that makes judicial diversion available for some veterans is serving as a model for other states.

The law signed by Gov. Jim Pillen in April makes Nebraska the first in the nation to adopt a model recommended by the Veterans Justice Commission, co-chaired by a former U.S. senator from Nebraska and one-time Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel.

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