In many corrections facilities, military service offers one distinct privilege: a special cellblock where veterans can work through problems they often share, such as substance use and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The military veterans playing cards in the Albany County jail wear the same orange uniforms as everyone else, with “INMATE” printed down the legs. Their service offers one distinct privilege: a special cellblock where they can work through problems they often share, such as substance use and post-traumatic stress disorder, the Associated Press reports. “It’s not just us and our thoughts all day,” says 31-year-old Navy veteran James Gibson, serving a 60-day criminal contempt sentence. “Everybody who’s been in here has been in the service. So we can all relate to at least that.” “Veteran pods” are becoming an increasingly common part of state and county lockups as the criminal justice system focuses more on helping troubled former service members. Veteran inmates are more likely to have reported mental health issues.
Nationwide, veterans accounted for 8 percent of all inmates, and there are at least 86 prisons and jails with designated veterans’ housing. Some of the half-dozen veterans’ dorms in Florida prisons feature daily flag raisings or monthly formations. Others, like Albany, tend to avoid military trappings. The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department offers yoga and meditation and works with a local veterans treatment court. Their common aim is to create an esprit de corps and a “safe space” to help veterans deal with their issues and reintegrate into society.