Adieu to a Great Woman
By Arnie Silverman
Several members of our Laguna Beach VFW Post are mentors at the Orange County Combat Veterans Court in Santa Ana. Founded and managed by Superior Court Judge, Wendy Lindley of San Juan Capistrano, the court has literally turned around if not saved the lives of felony-convicted veterans who instead of being imprisoned enter her 18-month program of rehabilitation.
After many years as a Superior Court judge, this inspirational and remarkable woman is retiring from the court system. For all
who have had the fortune of knowing and being associated with her, she has been an exemplary role model. Doggedly determined to rehabilitate if not rescue felony-convicted veterans who have entered her court’s four-stage program and always hopeful that all will make it through successfully, she is not only encouraging, compassionate and empathetic (her usual demeanor), but also stern and direct (without vindictiveness) when they continually fail to fulfill the tasks and responsibilities assigned them.
Her joyous enthusiasm is evident when she observes the progress of mentees as they complete the various program stages. Her
greatest joy, however, is participating in a court room graduation ceremony. She makes it such a significant event that I defy anyone not to be emotionally moved as she approves and grants graduation from the program and announces the expunging of the felony conviction. In that regard, evidence of the success of the program is in the over 50 of those who have graduated and the impressively low recidivism rate of 4% (compare the latter to the rate of those who have been imprisoned).
This great woman who against significant opposition determinedly pursued the establishment of this rewarding redemption resource is leaving a legacy that is being emulated nationally. I submit, however, that her finest legacy is the appreciation of those who have graduated from the program. Just ask any of them .
On Tuesday, November 12, volunteer mentors of the court all of whom are combat veterans held a farewell and thank you luncheon for her. All of us stood, saluted and thanked her for her service.
Arnold Silverman, commander of the Laguna Beach VFW Post 5868, served in the Korean War.