When the military calls, men and women from all walks of life drop everything in their lives and report. No one is above the call to duty, including an area judge.
Okaloosa County Judge Patt Maney is hanging up his robes for the next six months. The 55-year-old Army reservist is being deployed to Afghanistan. But unlike his younger counterparts, the judge won't patrol the streets he's going as one of two special advisors to the U.S. Ambassador in Afghanistan. His job, to build a democracy in the war-torn country.
"As American's building a school or an orphanage always makes us feel good. But we have to look at what they need. They might need us to get the agricultural economy going again first,” says Judge Maney.
Judge Maney and his wife, Caroline, spent the last few days getting their affairs in order and updating their wills. The judge got his orders on Monday and will ship out sometime in the next few days. Caroline says saying goodbye is the hardest part.
"It is hard, but I try not to think about it. I try to focus on all the other families going through this too. And there are things you can do to keep your mind off it. Like exercising a lot and staying positive, surrounding yourself with positive people,” Caroline Maney adds.
But this isn't the first democracy Judge Maney has helped build. The judge spent time in Panama, Haiti, and Bosnia following conflicts in those countries as well.
"To be in this business you have to be an optimist because democracy is not a finite thing it's very dynamic,” Maney explains.
Retired judges will sit in his seat while Maney is overseas. He will be gone about six months.
Judge Maney is running for re-election in Okaloosa County this fall.