Editor’s Note: On Aug. 28, the Liberty County Commissioners Court passed a resolution to establish a Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) program, as reported in our December 2018 issue. Spencer Walker, a combat veteran who has received services from a VTC, played a role in establishing the program. County Progress would like to thank Mr. Walker for sharing his story.
Howdy from Houston! My name is Spencer Walker; I grew up in Jackson, Miss., and Sugar Land, Texas. My parents retired from MEDVAMC (Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center), with 53-plus years of service. My father is my personal hero, a decorated U.S. Air Force and Vietnam veteran and an Air Medal recipient who is buried at Houston National Cemetery. I am truly humbled by my military heritage which profoundly shaped my worldview of American Exceptionalism. My forefathers fought valiantly for freedom since our nation’s founding, including the Revolutionary, Mexican and Civil wars, and WWI and WWII, with a prominent judge, Purple Heart recipient, and state representative within their ranks. I am mighty honored to continue this legacy as the first U.S. Marine in direct bloodline and a young son to soon follow suit.
I served in the Marine Corps from 1999-2003 as a counter battery radar operator. My primary mission was as follows: targeted acquisition of hostile indirect firing systems to initiate rapid response, precision-based counter-fire.
I met my amazing bride while stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and our handsome son was born shortly thereafter. I was deployed to the frontlines of Operation Iraqi Freedom with Regimental Combat Team 5 during the 2003 invasion. I was one of the first 100 Marines to cross the border (Line of Departure) into Iraq on March 19 and in the initial unit to arrive in Baghdad on April 9. My commendations include Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, and Iraq Campaign Medal.
We then moved to Huntsville, Texas, where our beautiful daughter was born. I earned a bachelor of science with highest honors (lone graduate) in criminal justice and geographic information systems from Sam Houston State University in May 2006. My senior thesis was G.I.S. Analysis of Global Aviation Hijacking & Bombing Incidents, 1931-2005. Upon graduation, I changed career paths from federal law enforcement to the oil and gas industry, working extensively in 3D seismic, pipelines, and carbon dioxide operations. I was professionally successful; however, my personal life was a train wreck, and I was spiritually bankrupt for many years.
While I came home from Iraq in one piece, I had a heart without peace. I descended quickly into darkness, struggling 10-plus years with combat trauma and alcohol addiction. I had multiple stints in a VA psychiatric unit and county jail, and I experienced job loss and homelessness. My family was besieged to total ruins. We buried my uncle and father three weeks apart, and then my grandfather several months later. On May 3, 2014, a night of heavy drinking led to a gas station fight, an aggravated assault charge, and a 57-day lockup in the Harris County Jail. I remember lying in an orange jumpsuit, completely broken with all hope lost as I travelled the “Dark Night of the Soul.” I cried out for mercy, and a redemptive opportunity would radically transform life’s trajectory.
The Harris County Veterans Treatment Court proved an incredibly challenging endeavor. Presiding Judge Marc Carter, 228th District Court (U.S. Army), pioneered statewide legislation in 2009 which authorized VTC programs in Texas. He now offered me this new beginning, a fresh start to secure personal liberty once again. After countless dockets and probation appointments, VA treatment became paramount to my recovery. Support from Wilcrest Baptist Church was also instrumental to my healing.
Our pastor, Jonathan Williams, visited me while I was in psychiatric care at the county jail. My wife and I underwent marriage counseling twice, for more than a year each time. Above all, I was blessed beyond measure by a devoted wife, loving children, a praying mother, and a brother who held to me account. Pastors Dave (U.S. Navy, Vietnam, Purple Heart) and Matt Roever inspired me and empowered me to march forward. I graduated from the Harris County VTC on May 4, 2016, forever indebted, eternally grateful. I now work for MHA Houston as a VTC wellness coordinator for three Houston area programs, mentoring 100-plus combat veterans. My passion is to actively engage warriors and instill hope, which is precisely what countless others have done for me.
The Liberty County Veterans Treatment Court came together from January 2017 to August 2018. Mr. Ken (USMC, Vietnam) and Mrs. Sandra Jolley linked me with Judge Marvin Powell, U.S. Army, Vietnam, Purple Heart, 14 months recovery at Brooke Army Medical Center (San Antonio). His storied career in law enforcement and time served on the bench as a judge have made him a definitive visionary and the catalyst who guided the court into existence; he will now serve as the court coordinator. Judge Mark Morefield, 75th District Court (U.S. Army, Vietnam) will preside over the new program. Mr. Mark Norris (MEDVAMC) and Mr. Matthew Poston (Liberty County attorney) are to be commended for tireless efforts. On Aug. 28, 2018, at 9:51 a.m., the Commissioners Court voted unanimously to establish the Liberty County VTC. “All things work together…,” Romans 8:28.
God connects dots and moves mountains. Recovery takes root by embracing adversity. Post-traumatic growth is anchored alone by faith in Christ. On a personal note, I was recently ordained as a deacon at Wilcrest Baptist on Veterans Day 2018, the 100th anniversary, WWI armistice. I am pursuing a master of science in leadership from Belhaven University. I am a proud member of Marine Corps League #1295.
This article is dedicated to American patriots, two men of impeccable character and integrity: VTC Judges Marc Carter and Mike Fields. With Liberty and Justice for All…God Bless & Semper Fidelis!