The Incarcerated Veterans Initiative
Sheriff Randall A. Liberty
The wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan placed a tremendous strain on military personnel and their families. As a result of their service many servicemen have returned home, forever changed by their combat-related experience. As an appreciative nation, we are duty-bound to assist them with their transition home. Recognizing this ever-growing problem, the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office has initiated a new program which assists Veterans and their families in their transition back into the community.
The goal of the Incarcerated Veterans Initiative is to identify Veterans who have service-related behavioral and or medical conditions and assist them in the rehabilitation of those issues. We recognize that there are common symptoms among previously deployed military personnel which include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Substance Abuse, Anger Management and Relationships difficulties. The Incarcerated Veterans Initiative screens Veterans as they enter the Kennebec County Correctional Facility and determine appropriate programming that may assist the Veteran in their recovery. As Veterans progress through the criminal justice system, stakeholders, including the District Attorney’s Office, Clinicians from Crisis and Counseling, Maine Pretrial Services, NAMI, and the Veterans Administration, work with the Veterans to establish and conduct a treatment plan.
Veterans with minor sentences are treated by clinicians inside the Correctional Facility, with a Veterans focus. The Correctional Facility has established a housing unit which is specifically designated for Veterans. Since the inception of this program in July, ten Veterans have been identified as having service connected disabilities which may have contributed to the Veterans incarceration. In August, Justice Nancy Mills committed to assist with this initiative. Justice Mills is the founder the Kennebec County Co-occurring disorder court, which has been operating very successfully since 2005. The court currently manages, on average, (30) inmates, assisting with their recovery and reintroduction into the community. Justice Mills has agreed to operate a Veterans track of the Co-occurring Court, dealing specifically with Veteran related issues. There are currently (48) Veterans Courts in the United States this is the first in the State of Maine.
“The Incarcerated Veterans Initiative is available to any Veteran in the State of Maine. There are an estimated 23.4 million Veterans in the United States, and more than 2.2 million active duty and reserve service members. As of August 2011, more than 2 million Americans have served in Afghanistan and or Iraq, many serving multiple tours. We have a duty to assist these veterans when they transition back into society. There are many committed stakeholders involved with this project. All personnel and agencies involved recognize the sacrifice of all Veterans and want to do their part to assist in the recovery of these honorable citizens.”
—Sheriff Randall A Liberty