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Vets getting help behind bars

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio (Deb Dixon) -- For some veterans, it is difficult to adjust from military to civilian life.

Post Traumatic Stress can lead to self-medication with drugs or alcohol.  Outreach workers sometimes can't even find the veterans because of homelessness.  But some tri-state vets are getting help in an unusual place.

The September 11th attacks inspired then teenager Christian Thompson to join the Marines.  He was attached to the USS Carl Vinson four years during Operation Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.  Now he's a tutor at the Hamilton County Jail.  Hamilton County is perhaps the first jail in the country to create a Vet Pod, where vets do time together.  And it's where vets can get services such as counseling and AA.

Cincinnati Hamilton County focuses on treatment based methods and making sure people don't come back.  Thompson works at the jail on a California warrant for threatening  a lawyer.  Others are addicts and others homeless.

Major Charmaine McGuffey, Hamilton County Jailer, said, "When they go out the door and they think, 'Where am I going to eat, sleep?'  We want them to solve that issues."
   
The jailer, a deputy and an outreach worker help make the Vet Pod happen.

Deputy Connie Olthaus of Hamilton County said, "They do like a schedule, get up certain time, thinking about making more like a military pod."

When the Vet Pod first opened in January they couldn't find enough to fill it.  So the jail started looking for them and the vets started coming forward.

Jennifer Wolfe of the VA Justice Outreach said, "For me, anyone who puts life on line for you and me is the most honorable thing a person can do.  Anybody willing to do that, if I can give back to them I will."
   
Vets have already left the jail and gone straight into treatment.  It's a step toward never coming back to jail.

A Sister of Charity Nun, Kateri Koverman, is the woman who pushed for the Vet Pod.  Sister Kateri Koverman, who was in Vietnam during the war, has been a psychotherapist for combat veterans for a dozen years.
  



Follow Deborah Dixon on Twitter @crimestopperdeb and LIKE her on Facebook

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