HOUSTON - Even though Veteran's Day is coming to an end, it’s important to know that their needs are year-round, even if they are in trouble with the law. It was discovered earlier this year that over 300 inmates were at the Harris County Jail, and they knew little to nothing at all about the resources available to them.
A few months later, the “Brothers in Arms” program was born. FOX 26 got an opportunity to see firsthand how this program operates. We also spoke with the inmates.
“Sometimes in life, you feel like you’ve been forgotten about, you know, with this program, it shows you that you’re still looked after by other veterans. This program shows other veterans that they have help,” says Timothy James, a Navy veteran who hopes to open a barbershop when he is released from prison.
In July of this year, the “Brothers in Arms” program opened in a section of the Joint Processing Center. It is not your typical jail. The walls are filled with inspirational quotes and positive photos. From the moment they walk in, the veteran inmates who earned their spot here are welcomed. Cedric Williams, a veteran of the Marines, tells us, “The guys around here are more brothers, like say our brothers in arms. We all respect each other, and it’s mainly, it’s a peaceful environment.”
Heide Laser is a case manager of Chaplain Services with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and tells FOX 26, “Having them all in one place, housed together, not only does it build camaraderie because they have that sense of we were in the military, we were in the units, but it also allows them to receive the services from the community."
And people do want to help. volunteers like fellow veteran Lesley Tribble come in to assist the inmates with finding resources.
“It feels like you’re dropped into another war zone, and nobody else knows it, and you’re all alone. So, while the battlefield has changed, the battlefield hasn’t changed. They are my brothers. They wouldn’t have left me out there; I ain’t leaving them in here,” says Tribble.
Once the inmates are released, it’s up to them to use all the information they gained, and be accountable for their own actions. The program, which is funded by the county, is proving to be a success and forms a special bond between the inmates, and staff.
“They’ve stood up to take an oath for our country and I will make sure that they have every, you know, resource possible to make sure that they get the help they need,” says Laser.
Inmates, of course, must be in good standing in order to remain in the program. “Brothers in Arms” can only house 72 inmates at a time, but they are hoping to be able to expand their program to allow for more veteran Inmates.