First mentor coordinator of Cobb County’s VATC recognized

Cobb Superior Court Judge Tain Kell congratulates Ernie Hines on being recognized by the statewide Council of Accountability Court Judges with the 2021 Star Award. Since 2014, Hines has volunteered countless hours as Mentor Coordinator of Cobb’s Veterans Accountability and Treatment Court. Judge Kell presides over Cobb’s veterans court.
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Cobb Superior Court Judge Tain Kell congratulates Ernie Hines on being recognized by the statewide Council of Accountability Court Judges with the 2021 Star Award. Since 2014, Hines has volunteered countless hours as Mentor Coordinator of Cobb’s Veterans Accountability and Treatment Court. Judge Kell presides over Cobb’s veterans court.

Credit: contribu

Credit: contribu

If you’re in the military it is understood you may have to sacrifice your life to protect our freedom. Returning home is not a smooth transition for many. What they’ve experienced is often life-altering.

As a Marine serving for 24 years, Sgt. Major Ernie Hines knows this too well.

“As someone who was 18 years old, that is something you never forget,” said Hines, who spent 13 months in Vietnam on his first tour of duty.

With a master’s degree in human resources management, Hines has held numerous HR executive positions and later owned 13 convenience stores before retiring in 2006.

There’s a successful veterans court program that started in Buffalo, N.Y., that veteran and former Cobb County Superior Court Judge Reuben Green wanted to implement, Hines said.

“I said to my wife, the military has done a lot for me. I believe in the program and source, and I think I want to volunteer,” added the Sgt. Major.

Hines has logged hundreds of hours in the Cobb County Veterans Accountability and Treatment Court, including its infancy, said VTC Coordinator Katelyn Parker.

The court “seeks to divert eligible veteran defendants with substance dependency and/or mental illness that are charged with criminal offenses, to a specialized criminal court,” according to cobbcounty.org.

A key piece of the VTC is the volunteer veteran mentor program facilitated by Ernie who “is so incredibly talented with pairing mentors with mentees. We describe it as magic,” she said.

As the first mentor coordinator ever to be recognized, Georgia’s Council of Accountability Court Judges honored Hines with the 2021 Star Award.

“He’s always the one person who on our staffing doesn’t say much but when he does it is always profound,” Parker said. “Ernie’s just an incredible genuine wonderful person. He comes from a place where he cares for this population that includes handling staffing, court, pairing mentors with mentees and late night calls.”

Hines noted aside from the award “It’s really about the program and to not forget those who sign a blank check on their lives when they give their oath to this country.

“It’s important to give back. To do my part. It could have been me,” he stated. “The main thing about it is it’s a second chance for these individuals that suffer from various things from PTSD, brain injury TBS, domestic problems to drug abuse and such. We want to return that veteran, that individual back to society … back to their families.”