A judge in North Carolina made an unprecedented gesture of compassion when he decided to spend the night in jail with a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who was suffering from PTSD.
Lou Olivera, a district court judge and Gulf War veteran, sentenced Green Beret Joe Serna to one night in jail for violating his probation and lying about a urine test.
“I gave Joe a night in jail because he had to be held accountable,” Olivera told CBS News.But for Serna, it would be more than just a night in jail. It would be a night of acute stress and painful flashbacks.
“When I walked into the jail cell and they closed the door behind me, I started feeling this anxiety,” he said. “It came back – a flashback.”
Serna is a retired Army Sargent First Class who did three tours in Afghanistan. He had a lot of harrowing experiences, but he says the worst came when a truck he and some fellow soldiers were riding in fell into a creek.
“We were following the creek and the road gave way,” he told CBS News. “And the vehicle went into the creek.”
- Serna was the accident’s only survivor.
“I lost my whole crew,” he said in an interview with People. “They were in the water with me. That tore me up. I couldn’t escape that truck. I stayed there until somebody saved me.”