It’s often said that the bond of those who serve in the military is unrivaled by any other. Even veterans that didn’t serve together often feel a connection because of their shared experiences and they sometimes look out for each other when the opportunity presents itself.
Well, that’s exactly what happened when Sgt. Joseph Serna walked into North Carolina District Court Judge Lou Olivera’s courtroom. Olivera, himself a Gulf War veteran, heard Serna’s trial for violating probation by lying about a urine test and chose to sentence him to 24 hours in prison, according to the Root. Not only did Olivera personally escort Serna to the next county, but he walked him to his one-man cell and spent the entire 24 hours with him.
“When Joe first came to turn himself in, he was trembling,” Olivera told the Fayetteville Observer. “I decided that I’d spend the night serving with him.”
“Where are we going, Judge?” Serna reportedly asked.
“We’re going to turn ourselves in,” the judge said.
Serna completed four tours in Afghanistan during his 18-year military career and nearly died on three occasions, including a run-in with a roadside bomb, a suicide bomber, and an instance where the vehicle he was riding in rolled over into a canal. Serna has reportedly been in Olivera’s courtroom more than two dozen times and has displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and has battled with alcoholism.
The two veterans reportedly spent those 24 hours talking about their military service and having a father-and-son like conversation. Olivera says he’s never served time along with someone he sentenced and wasn’t sure if he’d ever do it again, according to WRAL.
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