There are over one million veterans sitting in jails and prisons throughout America, but in towns close to military bases home to combat units, the ratio of discharged soldiers having a brush with the law is even greater.Troops get home from combat and wartime duty eager to get out of the military and start a new life, but once they’re discharged many have a hard time finding a place in the community they left behind.
The problem is so extreme that many judicial systems have set up separate trial proceedings for veterans. Philadelphia launched their separate Veterans Court nearly two years ago, and now a first-of-its kind veterans only jail dorm is open in Georgia.
Sara Pauff at the Ledger-Enquirer reports the Muscogee County Jail opened the new dormitory with the goal of providing vets treatment and services they need to transition back to civilian life: PTSD treatment, a veterans only court, mental health counseling, and even housing assistance.
County Sheriff John Darr told Pauff the dorm can hold 16 inmates, is the only one of its kind in a county jail, and is funded solely by community resources.
From the Ledger-Enquirer:
The Veterans Court offers legal help to incarcerated veterans diagnosed with a mental illness. Superior Court Chief Judge John Allen said they’ve found that some of the inmates they see don’t identify as veterans and that sometimes, their problems can be traced back to their military service.
“There ought to be a place in our city that provides a facility where veterans can stay for a period of time while being treated, physically and mentally,” Ret. Col. Roy Plummer said. Veterans typically stay in the house for three to six months, until they can manage their own affairs.
Muscogee County is home to the city of Columbus, where “The Home of the Infantry” — Fort Benning — lives and breathes.
Benning serves more than 120,000 military members and their dependents and hosts more than 15 Army infantry units as well as many specialised schools like the Army Sniper School, Jump School, and the armour School.
Wilbert Cox, who is now in jail on theft and trespassing charges, was in the Army for 10 years and told the Ledger “This is the first time I’ve been in jail … [and now] we’re not just thrown into the wolves’ den. There is something available to us for our service to our country.”
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