|Blogs||Articles||Organizations||Biography||Jack's Book||Contact Information||Links|
Navigation: SOS Sisson > Traumatic Injury Blog
Jack Sisson's TBI Blog
A hug is duct tape for the soul.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
New program helps veterans in prison
Before the program, no one was even tracking the number of veterans behind bars...
More than 1 million veterans are in jails and prisons in the U.S. More than 2,000 of them are in North Carolina prisons, arrested for crimes ranging from theft, to drugs, to murder.
Many incarcerated veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injury or other mental health issues. The problems are side effects of their service that they might not recognize until it’s too late.
But there is a new effort in Mecklenburg County to help them.
Wesley Woodling will never forget the night he killed an innocent man, someone he mistakenly thought was trying to rob him.
“I was using tactics when I did it. I did it from a tree line where nobody could see me,” he said. “Like I was trained to do.”
He was trained in the National Guard and served in Iraq and Kuwait.
He was diagnosed with PTSD and bi-polar disorder and discharged in 2008. He said he was suicidal and hearing voices after he returned to his Charlotte home.
“I was paranoid whenever I went somewhere. I thought everybody was talking about me; everybody was planning to hurt me,” he said. “I think if I would have gotten the help that I needed, then this wouldn’t have happened.”
But there may be help for Woodling and other veterans who are having trouble adjusting to civilian life.
Joe Rapley works with a new pilot program in Mecklenburg County called Operation Recovery. His team identifies veterans in jail and advocates for them before they go to trial.
“We will talk to public defenders and judges and let them know what we have here is a veteran who has post-traumatic stress or a traumatic brain injury and they’ve never received any care for it,” he said.
If the court agrees, Veterans Affairs benefits cover their care. And if the veterans stick to their treatment plan, the criminal charges may be reduced.
Before the program, no one was even tracking the number of veterans behind bars, Rapley said.
“Judges have been key. We’ve had judges say, ‘We want to help out military folk, so what can we do?’” Rapley said.
Now the program has helped more than 200 jailed veterans in Mecklenburg County in the last year. Most of the veterans helped by the program had never connected with veterans services until after they were incarcerated.
The program might have worked for Woodling. “I wanted help. I was crying for help,” he said.
As he serves his sentence at Alexander Correctional Institution, he said he is finally stabilized and on the right medication.
“I think I have a chance at a normal life now, but it’s not fair because someone else doesn’t,” he said.
Operation Recovery was launched in Mecklenburg County and 13 other sites around the country. If it is successful, it could be expanded statewide or nationwide.
LinksTBI Film Reviews
TBI Book Reviews
Traumatic Brain Injury Law Blog
SoapBlox/Chicago: Protecting Our Troops
Head Injury Survival Journal
Losing the Physical Self
Tower of Hanoi: Instructions for this popular puzzle can be viewed simply by clicking the Instructions button on that page.
May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 January 2009 March 2009 April 2009 December 2009 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 October 2013