GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) — Greenville County Judge Charles Simmons, Jr., received the state’s highest civilian honor Wednesday morning in court. After decades serving in drug court and the 13th Circuit’s Veterans Treatment Court Program, Simmons received the Order of the Palmetto.

The Veterans Court program turns 10 this year in the 13th Circuit. The program aims to divert vets involved in nonviolent crimes from prison and instead into a mentorship and recovery system.

“They have a mentor, they have to come to court every other week at 8:30 in the morning. It’s just a wonderful program,” Simmons said. “Sometimes, we just need someone to walk alongside us for a while.”

Walt Wilkins, Solicitor for the 13th Circuit, told 7News the program has been effective at reintegrating struggling vets into society.

“They have post-traumatic stress disorder and many of them numb that through substance abuse,” Wilkins said. “That really is the root where a lot of their problems stem and they need assistance overcoming that.”

After commending vets in the program for their progress this morning, Simmons received commendation of his own: The Order of the Palmetto.

Simmons said he was honored that the packed courtroom was there to support the program, and said he was “just overwhelmed by the action of the governor in awarding the Order of the Palmetto, which I’m tremendously honored to receive.”