(WBRE/WYOU-TV) History was made Monday in the Commonwealth. The state correctional institution in Muncy now includes Pennsylvania’s first housing unit dedicated to female veterans. The unit can house up to 20 inmates at a time. It will also be a space that provides re-entry programming tailored specifically to veterans currently serving time.
The programs offered by the veteran’s service unit will be run by the staff of the state correctional institution as well as peers specialized in veteran services.
Department of Corrections Release
Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary John Wetzel today announced the opening of Pennsylvania’s first housing unit dedicated to female veterans. The women’s unit at SCI Muncy, designed to house up to 20 female veterans, is believed to be the first residential unit of its kind in the nation.
“The DOC is proud of its efforts building strong programs for veterans that encompass a wide-range of needs,” said Corrections Secretary John Wetzel. “There are more women in the military than ever before and it’s essential that we provide services to those who served their country so that they return to the community as healthy and productive citizens.”
Since the launch of its first dedicated veterans’ unit in 2014, the DOC has worked to expand its housing units and services for male inmates who served in the armed forces. There are currently Veterans Service Units at five prisons and Veterans Services Offices at the remaining 20 facilities. The programs serve approximately 3,000 verified inmate veterans who represent almost 7 percent of the 47,000 inmates in the DOC system.
The veterans’ units provide veteran-specific programs, workshops and services that include mental health services, life skills, substance abuse programs, education/vocational programs, home/employment plans, reentry programming and assistance with securing federal veterans’ benefits and services after release.
Beyond the services, the programs offer veterans a chance to reestablish bonds they developed in the military and restore their sense of pride and teamwork.
“No matter what branch of the armed services these female veterans once served in, they all know the sense of camaraderie, team work and sense of pride that comes with serving their country,” said Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “The opportunity to reside in this Veteran Service Unit allows them to get back into the ‘basic training’ mentality where they once thrived. There will also be opportunities for them to take advantage of veteran-related programs and services that will support their successful re-entry back into the community.”
In order to qualify for any of the veterans’ units, including Muncy, an inmate must be a verified veteran who is free of misconducts for a year and generally within three years of release.