It’s fairly obvious that reintegration into society after the military is difficult for many Veterans. Unfortunately, when you add TBI and PTSD into the mix, the results can lead to legal difficulties for those same Veterans.
Since the formation of the first Veteran’s court in New York in 2008, Veterans have had the opportunity to address the issues at the source of their legal troubles, rather than just receive punishment without the underlying cause of problems such as addiction, PTSD, TBI and homelessness being addressed.
The State of Tennessee is taking things one step further, and instituting Veteran’s wings in three of its prisons, according to a recent article in the Tennessean. [Source]
Although one of the roles of Veteran’s court is to try and reduce or eliminate incarceration in return for the Veteran receiving treatment, there are still times when jail is the only outcome. Is it right to provide the kind of structure a barrack-like atmosphere would provide for these individuals?
I’m of two minds on the issue: if reintegration is at the root of the Veteran’s legal problems, does separating them from the rest of the population help reduce or increase that problem? At the same time, a return to the structure and discipline provided by a military-like environment could help the Veteran find new direction.
Whatever your opinion, the formation of Veteran only prison units begs one question: if the justice system recognizes that Veterans have unique and often very different needs than the rest of the inmates in the system, then what does that say about American society at large?
Are Veterans a unique class of American? Should Veterans strive to reintegrate, or should Veterans recognize that they are different, and isolate? What good does isolation do? Instead of isolation, which, in my personal experience compounds my issues, perhaps we should find the means to associate with those different than us, while still recognizing our differences.
Being a functional (or dysfunctional, who am I kidding?) member of society means finding ways to cooperate in spite of our differences. Sure, Veterans are different. We were trained to be, many of us for years and years. We’re not better, we’re not worse, we’re different. Different is ok - right up until it infringes on someone else’s life.
I’m thankful Veteran’s court is an option. Perhaps Veteran’s units in prisons is just the next step. The goal of Veteran’s court is healing of the underlying issues that result in criminal charges. Let’s hope the Tennessee prison system’s goal is the same - and that rehabilitation is really what happens, instead of institutionalization.
Article written by: PTSDog - DV & DV Radio's Expert Service Animal Whispererer...er.
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