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Mercer Hosts First Meeting Between Incarcerated Veteran, Treatment Court Participant

Tags: Mercer
April 04, 2023 12:00 AM
By: DOC Staff

An incarcerated veteran sits across from a visitor at SCI Mercer

​The SCI Mercer Veterans Service Unit began a partnership with the Mercer County Veterans Treatment Court last year to bring court participants in to meet with incarcerated veterans. The program has been in the works since the summer of 2022, but the first meeting between participant and inmate took place on March 22, 2023.

Dan* was the first veteran participating in the court who met with an incarcerated veteran as part of his programming.

“I’m not really sure what to expect,” Dan said as he entered. “I don’t know who I'm supposed to talk to today... Should I have brought something to write with?”

Dan met with Michael*, one of the inmates selected from the VSU who has been approved to participate in the mentoring partnership. The MCVTC has made at least one meeting with an incarcerated veteran part of the requirements for court participants to graduate.

After only a few minutes, Dan and Michael chatted as if they had known each other for years, bonding through military and civilian shared experiences. At the conclusion of the meeting, the two shook hands and wished each other luck.

On his way back to his housing unit, Michael said he had been struggling for years to find some sense of purpose behind prison walls, especially as someone with a life sentence. He went on to say that he felt a sense of completion after the meeting, as if he had just done something meaningful, something that he had not felt in a long time.

The original goal of this partnership was to potentially prevent justice-involved veterans from continuing on a path that would ultimately lead them to incarceration — vets helping vets.  After speaking with Michael, it’s clear that this partnership has the potential to achieve so much more.

*names changed for anonymity

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