There are approximately 109 Texas prison units with thousands of incarcerated Honorably Discharge Veterans in need of mentoring to reintegrate into civilian life! There are so far two Units that are mentoring these much needed veterans and many units to go. I am about to take the challenge one prison at a time to make a difference. Starting on November 18th, the mentoring program will start at the Hondo, Texas prisons ( Ruben M. Torres Unit and Joe Ney Unit). This is just the beginning and we ask for your help!
This mentor program is intended for incarcerated veterans that are scheduled for release within the next six (6) months.
Statistics indicate that somewhere between Seventy-Five (75) and Eighty (80) per cent of our country’s Justice Involved veterans have an Honorable Discharge. This means that most of the veterans; were once proud soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen. Now they are convicts due to boredom, PTSD, TBI, MST, depression and/or bad decisions.
While most offenders enter the penal system “young and dumb”, veterans are intelligent both war wise and street wise. Their crimes run the gauntlet like any other inmate, but lean toward alcohol/substance abuse and/or family violence. Many of them probably do not belong in jail but that is all that is offered. There is no doubt they committed the crime, but why?
The goal is to familiarize these veterans with the peer-to-peer concept. They will be among others who share similar backgrounds and difficulties. When they are released to go home hopefully; they will seek a support group, get the help they need and not become a re-offender. They need to understand that they are not alone. Nationwide there are approximately 200,000 Veterans in the same situation they are.
In a typical peer-to-peer group meeting; discussions focus on Anger, Authority, Closeness, Decision-making, Emotions, Intelligence, Loss, Mission Orientation, Predictability, Response tactics, Safety, Talking, The Enemy, and Trust. When facilitating a peer-to-peer group in a penal institution care must be taken in what is said and done. For that reason; Anger and Authority are omitted in this program and others have been modified accordingly. Anger is easily misdirected and can lead to questioning/challenging authority. Prisons are like the military – you do as you are told when you are told, no questions asked.
YES! This is a much needed program to put back on track those who gave us the Freedom we now have. This is a program that not just anyone can facilitate or take up the challenge, but will start with a strong caring Veteran who is up for the challenge and certified to mentor.
Staff Sergeant Abraham Galvan – United States Marine Corps