The official blog of American Veteran Magazine, the national quarterly publication of AMVETS.

Monday, May 7, 2012

First Veteran Jail Dormitory

On Saturday, Fox News reported that Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr has opened the first county jail dormitory exclusively catering to veterans. Giving these inmates access to a variety of programs focused on addiction and depression, Darr aims to give these veterans a second chance. Also, veterans receive a mentor who will continue to keep in contact with them after they are released from jail. This will hopefully solve the problem of recidivism among veterans and allow these individuals to receive the help they deserve.

Many veterans depend on alcohol and other substances to cope with building mental and financial problems after leaving the military. These decisions often lead to veterans breaking the law and landing in a jail cell. In fact, approximately one-tenth of the incarcerated population is male veterans. Darr and other jail employees see many veterans come and go, since the jail is located just miles away from Fort Benning, one of the largest military installations in the United States. Running solely on volunteers, this program seeks to use community involvement to provide services and support to the veteran inmates.

Certainly a step in the right direction, veterans easily fall through the cracks in our legal system as court systems and prisons do not recognize that many suffer from addictions, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental illnesses relating to combat experiences. Veteran treatment courts have began to spring up across the country, providing resources and health services to veterans. Seventy five percent of veteran treatment court graduates have never been arrested again, proving that the model and resources provided works. As the veteran suicide rate and homeless statistic continues to rise, exclusive jail dormitories for veterans build upon the mission of veteran treatment courts. Giving veterans hope, hopefully this trend will spread to other prison and jail systems across the country. 

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