Vista CA— The Veterans Moving Forward program at the Vista Detention Center is expanding. An additional housing unit specifically for inmates who are military veterans opened today ahead of Veterans Day next week.
California is home to more veterans and service members than any other state in the nation (Source: U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs). On average, nearly 300 veterans are in San Diego County Jails. Many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and other mental health issues. Veterans Moving Forward addresses the special needs of military inmates with the following resources:
- New housing unit has 32 additional beds.
- First housing unit with 32 beds opened on November 1, 2013
- Housing unit is just like military barracks with “brothers” who can relate to each other.
- Correctional counselors and deputies are veterans themselves.
- Re-entry programs or classes address the needs of veterans such as substance abuse or behavior management. Classes are Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Veterans Affairs, correctional counselors, probation staff and community-based organizations provide the programs.
Since opening the first jail dormitory for military veterans last year, none of the 69 released participants has been arrested for a new offense. This extraordinary collaboration has caught the eye of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) along with Kern and Riverside counties. They’ve reached out to the Sheriff’s Department to learn more about creating their own programs for veterans.
Sheriff Bill Gore says, “Whatever brings veterans into our jails, they present a unique challenge and if viewed rightly, a unique opportunity. Veterans Moving Forward promotes responsibility and accountability. One inmate describes the program as a beacon of light, an opportunity to finish right. This ‘opportunity’ requires serious work and I applaud our deputies and correctional counselors for addressing the special needs of military inmates. It’s good for them and in the long run, it’s good for the communities we’re sworn to protect.”