Helping Our Veterans

Every year, sadly, thousands of veterans are placed through the criminal justice system. Most of their problems may not even be there own, but rather based on issued that stem from their service. I am going to take a break and go personal for a minute. I had a friend named Justin. When I was in elementary school, Justin was two years younger than me, but in my brother’s fourth grade class. He had moved off and when I was a senior in high school, he came back to my town and we actually became really good friends.

After high school, he joined the Air Force. He spent time overseas in several places. I can’t remember all of them, other than South Korea. But, upon his return to the states, Justin was asked to come to San Antonio, Texas to serve as a drill instructor. While there, he was involved in an accident and had his foot ran over. Since that time, Justin became addicted to painkillers and alcohol.

On December 21, 2015, Justin, who had moved to Colorado at this point, was working as at a ski resort when he had an accident and broke his wrist. He popped some pills and drank some. He never woke up. I had heard a rumor and had not been able to reach him for a while. So I found his dad’s address and wrote him and he confirmed the news.

Drug addiction, including painkillers and alcoholism is a huge problem for veterans, as is post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are tons of resources out there that can help veterans, including the Bureau of Prisons. If you are experiencing any systems of depression or suicidal thoughts or have an addiction problem, PLEASE SEEK HELP! There are people who care about you.

I’m sorry to begin on a sad note, but this was a little tribute to a good friend of mine who I truly miss.

In other news, Veteran’s Day is officially November 11, but with it falling on a Sunday this year, many federal offices (and the B.O.P.) will celebrate it on November 12. As I previously mentioned, thousands of veterans enter the system every year. So on Sunday (or Monday), if you know of anyone in prison who is a veteran, whether it be an inmate or a staff members, put all your differences aside and thank them for their service. If it wasn’t for men and women like them, we could end up in a place like the Philippines where you don’t get a chance to go to trial. If you are a drug dealer, you are shot and killed on the street with no questions asked…by the police!

I am including a few resources below that veterans can contact in order to help them transition back into society. If you know of anyone, even on the outside, who is a veteran and needing help, please pass these along to them.

*U.S. Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Services
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Room S-1325
Washington, DC 20210
(Offers a guide titled “Planning for Your Release: A Guide for Incarcerated Veterans”.)

*The American Legion
1608 K. St., N.W.
Washington, DC 20006
(800) 433-3318
www.legion.org
(Assists veterans in obtaining benefits, including health care and compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs and provides information on employment and homeless veterans.)

*Family Alliance for Veterans of America
Attn: Rhonda Jordal
100 N. Clark
Forest City, IA 50436
(Assists vets with resources for family related issues.)

*National Coalition for the Homeless Vet
333 1/2 Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E.
Washington, DC 20003
(800) VET-HELP / (800) 838-4357
www.nchv.org

*Stars and Stripes
529 14th Street, N.W.
Suite 350
Washington, DC 20045-1301
(312) 763-0900
www.stripes.com
(Stars and Stripes exists to provide independent news and information to the U.S. military community, comprised of active-duty service members, DoD civilians, contractors and their families.)

US Veterans Magazine
18 Technology Drive
Suite 170
Irvine, CA 92618
www.usveteransmagazine.com
(Provides the latest, most important veteran news covering virtually every industry helping veterans to find work & business opportunities. 1 year subscription (4 issues) – $18.)

*VA Health Care
(877) 222-8387
med.va.gov

*Veterans Advocate
c/o Vet Legal Services
PO Box 65762
Washington, DC 20035
www.nvlsp.org

*Vietnam Veterans of America
Attn: Veterans Incarcerated Liaison
8605 Cameron St.
Suite 400
Silver Springs, MD 20910
(800) 882-1316
www.vva.org
(Publishes “From Felon to Freedom: A Pre-Release Guide for Imprisoned Veterans.)

[Sources: www.nolo.com, “Inmate Shopper” published by Freebird Publishers]

R.I.P. Justin Paul Blanford 1986-2015
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