LANSING, Mich. — For many people who do time in prison, its tough to get on the right path.
Now, state officials are putting over $2 million toward programming to help incarcerated veterans get the tools they need to be successful on the outside.
"But having to start your life over is really the same across the board or returning citizens. So just having that leg up having that reach in services to prison to help you prepare for when you're released, I think that's amazing," said Marvin Cotton from the National Organization of Exonerees.
The $2.4 million grant is being directed to a program called MIVIP, which is a new program specifically targeting veterans who are serving time.
The grant will allow hundreds to get training, mentoring and workshops to prepare them for the outside world, which can be chock full of barriers.
"We will be going into a number of state correctional facilities. We'll be providing employment services through that in-reach to make sure that veterans know that some of the experience and training they receive in the military especially is valuable and needed in the workplace," said Joe Billig of LEO Veterans’ Employment Services.
Seven state prisons will benefit from the grant-funded programming, including Cooper Street, G. Robert Cotton and Parnall correctional facilities in Jackson as well as Carson City, Women’s Huron Valley, Saginaw and St. Louis correctional facilities.
Billig says about 250 incarcerated vets will be helped over a three-year period.
"Addressing those barriers, and maybe behavioral or background issues that the veteran has, is really a challenge and really one of the most important things that we do to gain a connection to that military veteran to help gain their trust and build confidence," said Billig.
Cotton works as an advocate for the formerly incarcerated and says the targeted programming is not just a good thing for veterans but for the community as a whole.
"The general public benefits the most when every returning citizen is coming home better prepared. I think that's a public safety matter right there making sure that they are better prepared when they come home," said Cotton.
The $2.4 million dollar grant is being provided by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.
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