To be eligible, the former service members must have been honorably discharged from the U.S. armed services, they cannot be in a gang or charged with a violent or gun crime. The program allows the participants, most of whom have pleaded guilty to drug charges, to avoid jail time as long as they abide by its strict conditions.

The idea is to help veterans with substance-abuse and mental-health issues turn their lives around by taking advantage of the social services available to them through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

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