The Suffolk Sheriff, a Legislator, a Judge and the Vietnam Veterans of America Team Up To Give Incarcerated Vets Get A Second Chance

VeteranssmmmSuffolk County Sheriff Vincent F. DeMarco has announced that he will launch an Incarcerated Veterans Re-Entry Initiative at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility at an event that will be held on June 10, 2016 at 12:30 p.m. at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility located at 200 Suffolk Ave., Yaphank, New York. Media is invited to attend. The program will help incarcerated veterans re-enter society with services in place to address some of the underlying causes of their contact with the justice system. Many of the jail’s incarcerated veterans suffer from PTSD and substance abuse issues, and have been involved in heavy combat situations.
The new initiative was spearheaded by the County Sheriff, along with Suffolk County Legislator William Lindsay III, Judge John J. Toomey of the Veterans Treatment Court, and Veteran Mentors from the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 11, from Farmingville, New York. A committee comprised of a diverse group of correctional staff, as well as service agencies, including the Veterans Administration, the Suffolk County Veterans Services Agency and the Salvation Army also participated in the planning.
The event will be attended by many veterans groups and service agencies. The keynote speaker is Army Reserve Brigadier General Richard K. Sele. BG Sele is a Long Island-native who grew up in Sayville, New York and graduated from Sayville High School in 1979. He enlisted in the Army in 1983 and has served on active duty for 24 years. During his career, he has been a liaison officer to the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Operation Desert Storm, a member of the Middle East Peace Process Roadmap Monitoring team and was inducted into the Order of Cincinnatus in 2012 for lifetime contributions to the Civil Affairs community. BG Sele has been awarded the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge, among other commendations. He currently serves as the Deputy Commanding General of the 108th Training Command (IET), headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Long Island has a military veteran population of 174,000 — more than any other area in New York State. Many of Long Island’s returning veterans are Reserve and National Guard members.
Veterans face many issues, some of which increase their likelihood of contact with the criminal justice system.
Employment Prospects
 Gulf War II veterans have the highest unemployment rate of all veterans.
 “A 2011 survey of 585 National Guard veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan found that only a third had obtained full-time employment 45 to 60 days after returning to civilian life.”
Mental Health/PTSD and SUD
 16% of all Gulf War II veterans (those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan post 9/11) are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
 More than 2 of 10 Veterans with PTSD also have a Substance Use Disorder (SUD).
 Almost 1 out of every 3 Veterans seeking treatment for SUD also has PTSD.
 In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 1 in 10 returning soldiers seen in VA have a problem with alcohol or other drugs.
 People with PTSD have a harder time overcoming addiction than those without it. The symptoms of withdrawal combined with the symptoms of PTSD amplify negative feelings and emotions that may lead to a relapse.
 Approximately 20 percent of service members reported binge drinking at least once a week. This rate is even higher for those with combat exposure.
 Some veterans addicted to prescriptions for pain and PTSD turn to illicit substances. Illicit drugs like heroin are often cheaper and easier to obtain than prescription painkillers.
Traumatic Brain Injury
 From 2002 to December 2012, 253,330 service members were diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) of some kind.
 MBTI – or mild traumatic brain injury – is often described as the “signature injury” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
 Every 65 minutes, a military veteran commits suicide.
 22 military veterans commit suicide every day.
 31 percent of these suicides were veterans aged 49 and younger.
 Every month nearly 1,000 veterans attempt to take their own lives. That’s more than one attempt every half hour.
 Suicides among active duty personnel almost equal one per day, or 349 per year.

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