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Allegheny County Jail Launches New Veteran Program

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Kathleen J. Davis
/
90.5 WESA
Allegheny County Jail inmates, who are also veterans, prepare for a press conference on the veteran pod on Monday, May 14, 2018.

Veterans serving time in the Allegheny County Jail will now have their own specialized resources and residential section. The pod opened last month, and currently houses 34 inmates.

Several community partners are partnering with the jail to provide services such as support for post-traumatic stress disorder, resume building workshops and helping inmates enroll in the Veterans Affairs health care system.

"We're going to provide them with everything that we think they need to be successful once they leave here," Warden Orlando Harper said. 

The veterans pod is based on similar programs elsewhere in the commonwealth, including one in York County Prison and at the State Correctional Institution at Mercer.

Harper said veterans benefit from being with their peers, in part because of their similar life experiences that otherwise can be isolating. As a veteran himself, Harper said he knows veterans act differently when they're with other veterans.

"They carry themselves differently, they speak differently, and they behave differently," Harper said. "They share experiences that only other veterans can understand."