Saturday, March 24, 2018

Judge gives Iraq veteran chance to heal PTSD

Getting rid of his demons
Leader Telegram
By Chris Vetter Leader-Telegram staff
March 23, 2018

Veteran gets mandatory sentence for 7th OWI, but judge seeks to expedite treatment
“We need to get rid of your demons — we need to get you to stop.”
Chippewa County Court. Judge Steve Gibbs

CHIPPEWA FALLS — A U.S. Army veteran who was convicted of his seventh drunken driving offense Friday will serve three years in prison, but his sentence will overlap with the final four months he has remaining on a prior conviction.

Seth A. Schussler, 35, of Wrightstown pleaded no contest in Chippewa County Court. Judge Steve Gibbs asked Schussler about his military service prior to sentencing. Schussler said he served two tours in Iraq. He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. “I can’t imagine the horrors you saw over there,” Gibbs told Schussler. “I believe that’s affected your life. And I believe you have used alcohol as your way of coping. I wish there wasn’t a mandatory minimum (sentence) here because you’d be a perfect fit for veterans court.”

However, defense attorney Jessie Weber pointed out that Gibbs could make Schussler’s sentence concurrent with his present sentence for sixth-offense drunken driving from Marinette County, which occurred in July 2016. Weber said it will speed up the ability for Schussler to enter a treatment facility.

“I think Mr. Schussler will benefit from it,” Weber told Gibbs. “He’s been trying to gain treatment through the VA.”

Gibbs decided to follow that recommendation, which shortens Schussler’s sentence by about four months.
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