I received this email from Dave Glassman on a new initiative to help veterans:
I’m pleased to inform you that the Center for Strategic Military Excellence (CSME) is forging ahead with a new project to assist our veterans and increase public safety by reducing the high recidivism rate of incarcerated veterans. Recent studies indicate that as much as 30% of the incarcerated population are veterans in the Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, that veterans are 3 times more likely to return to incarceration than non veterans and that veterans account for nearly 1/4 of our homeless population.
Roughly 8 million of 24 million veterans are enrolled in the VA. CSME endeavors to identify gaps in VA services provided to veterans and increase the level of care for veterans through training, education and developing community partnerships. We know this is important to both the veterans and the communities where they reside and that an increased level of care and infrastructure is needed for the 16,000 veterans expected to return to the Gulf Coast during the next two years with more than 37% of them diagnosed with various mental illnesses that can lead to higher rates of incarceration and homelessness.
Understanding the impact of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury impaired veterans on crime rates and homelessness within our local communities, CSME led the effort to establish a veteran specific sub committee of the Northwest Florida Re-Entry Task Force. Since then, the Florida Department of Corrections has begun implementing a statewide initiative that relocates ALL veteran inmates to one of 6 correctional facilities in the state with the Santa Rosa Correctional Institution identified as one of those 6 facilities. Currently, the Florida Department of Corrections has 6,735 documented Veterans incarcerated throughout the State Prison System.
CSME is working with the Florida Department of Corrections and the University of West Florida to develop a new Re-Entry project for incarcerated veterans. This project is part of the CSME ‘Stripes to Stars’ Homelessness Prevention and Outreach Program that CSME plans to expand across the VA Gulf Coast during a 3-year pilot program and eventually implement the program nationwide.
One of the central pieces of this program is a veteran mentoring component that matches active duty, retired and former service members with incarcerated veterans who will be housed in the new veteran dorm at the Santa Rosa Correctional Institution in Milton, FL.
So, today I’m seeking your support for this program by asking you to consider becoming a veteran mentor yourself or, if you are not a veteran, to please raise awareness of this project to veterans that you know. If you are part of a veteran group, or know of one that I could present this program to, please provide me the contact information to reach them. We are all concerned about our at-risk veterans who are in need of transition assistance that includes VA re-enrollment, employment training, education opportunities, housing and health care. What we are advocating is that they don’t necessarily need to transition alone and that a little mentorship can likely mean the difference between a veteran successfully re-entering back to family and community or returning to incarceration.
Please review the Stripes to Stars program information (VeteranMentorInformation) and distribute as you see fit to help with identifying potential volunteers for this service to veterans. We will conduct a “perspective veteran mentor” presentation on June 10th in Pensacola so please reply to this email if you would like additional information.
Thank you for your consideration, I look forward to hearing from you.
LtCol, USMC Ret.
CSME, Director of Operations