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Missouri prison program recognized for veteran rehab

Missouri prison program recognized for veteran rehab

December 11th, 2017 by Associated Press in Local News

In this Sept. 15, 2004, file photo, prisoners arrive at Jefferson City Correctional Center.

Photo by News Tribune /News Tribune.

MOBERLY, Mo. (AP) — A new veterans ward in a Missouri prison is earning recognition for veteran rehabilitation.

The Columbia Missourian reported the Missouri Veterans Project began at the Moberly Correctional Center six months ago. Its success has led to similar programs at prisons in Jefferson City, Potosi and Boonville.

The pilot program began with a post-traumatic stress disorder program. The ward now offers staff-led training and classes for mental health assistance. Fifty one of 66 available beds in the program are now filled.

"The way that you would treat mental health with veterans is different from the rest of the offender population," Department of Corrections spokeswoman Karen Pojmann said. The state created a program that houses all veteran offenders together so they can participate in various treatment programs, including those for mental health issues and substance abuse. Inmates can attend classes on parenting, anger management, cognitive behavior training and victim impact.

The heart of the program is pair programming, in which veterans can teach other veterans, said Rusty Ratliff, a correctional case manager who oversees the ward.

Ratliff said the goal is to help the offenders get released despite issues many of them deal with, including substance abuse and emotional trauma from combat.

"One thing that all veterans in this unit have in common is they're all going to be released on day," he said. "It's a long road to go down, and I think we're moving in the right direction by identifying a problem, and now we're just trying to work on the resources to get these guys the help I think they need."