The Fayetteville Observer has a remarkable story:

Standing before Judge Lou Olivera was a retired Special Forces Green Beret sergeant who was in Cumberland County veterans court on April 12 for violating probation.

“Every two weeks we go to veterans court, and my urinalysis test had come back positive,” Joe Serna, 41, says….

Olivera sentenced Serna to a night in lockup and told him to report back to court the next day for incarceration….

Serna reported for his punishment, where he was met by the judge.

“When Joe first came to turn himself in, he was trembling,” says Olivera, a veteran, too, who served in the Gulf War. “I decided that I’d spend the night serving with him.”

And down Interstate 95 south, the judge drove this nervous veteran.

“Where are we going, judge?” Serna asked.

“We’re going to turn ourselves in,” Olivera said.

“He said he was going to stay with me,” Serna said. “I couldn’t process a judge being my cellmate.

“They take me to the cell, and I’m sitting on my bunk. And, then, in walks the judge….

Mostly, from five in the afternoon on April 13 until 6:30 a.m. the next day, the judge and the veteran talked about their respective military service, Serna’s post-traumatic stress disorder from three tours of duty in Afghanistan and how the inmate could turn around his downward spiral that had resulted in a driving-while-impaired charge and other serious traffic offenses.

“I was having a hard time,” Serna says about his DWI charge. “I lost a lot of friends in Afghanistan and because of my injuries from an Afghanistan suicide-bomber, I medically retired and I was depressed and going down the wrong path.”

Then he met Olivera in veterans court.

“He stepped in there for me,” says Serna, a married father of seven ages 23, 20, 18, 15, 7, 2 and five months.

Rocio Serna, a military veteran, says she has seen a change in her husband and is grateful to Olivera.

“When he told me this story, I was in disbelief,” she says. “I said, ‘No way.’ The judge even bought doughnuts for the family when they came home.”…

“I cannot even put into words how I feel about him,” Serna says. “I look at him as a father. I’ve seen a lot of things, and this by far is the most compassionate thing I’ve ever seen anyone give to anybody. I will never let him down again.”