TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)– U.S. Army Green Beret Clay Allred’s fight to be reinstated as a student at the University of South Florida is now gaining the attention of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C.
Allred was disqualified for enrollment at the University after a violent episode in 2014, triggered by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Earlier this month, his house arrest order was terminated, but he still has not been granted entry to the University to complete the 17 credits he needs to get his degree.
Now, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald is urging the University to reconsider, requesting a sit-down meeting with University President Dr. Judy Genshaft to discuss the ways the VA and the University can work together to educate veterans who have completed veteran’s treatment court programs.
For many Veterans, higher education is an indispensable part of a recovery and employability plan with a Veterans Treatment Court (VTC). VTCs seek to treat Veterans suffering from a substance abuse and/or mental health disorder, while also helping ensure public safety, by combining rigorous treatment and personal accountability with the goal of breaking the cycle of drug use and criminal behavior.
VTCs have become one of VA’s most effective initiatives for keeping Veterans out of jail and avoiding homelessness once incarceration ends by diverting Veterans away from future incarceration and into VA treatment programs,” wrote McDonald in the letter, dated December 22nd.
The University has been hesitant to reinstate Allred because of an incident last year where he fired shots in the air from his pistol, deliberately scaring a Pakistani-American store clerk.
Since then, Allred has completed all of the requirements of the Hillsborough County Veteran’s Treatment Court and the Judge in charge of his case claims Allred has been a model student.
“Of all the defendants that I have seen in the past 21 years I can think of no one who has performed in such exemplary fashion,” said Judge Gregory P. Holder.
In his letter, VA Secretary McDonald praises the work of those Veterans Treatment Courts, writing, “Veterans involved in a VTC program experience significant improvement in PTSD, depression, substance abuse, emotional well-being, relationships with others, recovery status, social connectedness, family functioning, and sleep.”
USF Media Relations tells News Channel 8 the President’s office has not received the letter yet, but will check for it when they return to the office on January 4th.