Life After Prison for Veterans
The Vietnam Veterans Group of San Quentin is gearing up to implement a new program designed to prepare incarcerated veterans for life after prison.
The San Quentin Unit Aptitude Development program or SQUAD for short will consist of weekly workshops in the areas of Substance Abuse & Addiction, Emotional Health & Wellness, Parole Planning & Preparation, and Health & Physical Fitness.
The veterans SQUAD mission is: “To empower members with the resources and life skills necessary to address the causative factors that led to their crimes and prepare them for successful reintegration back into society.”
Once group members have completed all four 12-week workshops, they become eligible to take part in mentorship training where they will learn to develop new life skills workshops and incorporate them into the SQUAD program.
From there, the VVGSQ hopes to open the program to all veterans, regardless of discharge status or group membership. The plan is to pass on the knowledge and insight the group has acquired to other members of the San Quentin community.
For the past 25 years, the VVGSQ has been a vital part of several charitable events inside and outside the prison. These include the Holiday Toy Program, Run to the Pen, Operation MOMS, and the annual Veterans Scholarship Award.
The group will continue to take part in these worthwhile endeavors full-force, but with the changing face of the prison and parole system, they want to provide its members with an internal network of support to help them get out and stay out of prison.
With the opening of West Block and Donner section, the VVGSQ has become the largest ILTAG group at San Quentin. As chairman, I feel an increasing responsibility to try and find ways to make sure the men of the VVGSQ are trained and ready for the streets.
A Call to Arms
An essential part of the SQUAD program will consist of enlisting the support of professionals and volunteers from outside veterans’ organizations willing to share their knowledge and expertise in the four rehabilitative components.
Anyone willing to help sponsor the veterans SQUAD program can contact the chief sponsor, Lt. Rudy Luna, at San Quentin State Prison – 1 Main Street – San Quentin, CA – 94964, (415) 454-1460 ext. 5808.