Wednesday, September 09, 2009

HMP Isle of Wight (Parkhurst) works to help ex- servicemen in prison

Led by Prison Officer Dave Wilson – formally 2nd Bn Scots Guards, prison officers in Parkhurst prison have set up a new group called the Veterans in Prison Association (VIPA). The Association supports our ex-forces personnel who have for one reason or another found themselves in prison. Currently run on a voluntary basis by other ex-forces prison officers, they recognise that for the majority, the prisoners are often there as a consequence of their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As part of the process, the ex-forces prisoners meet regularly in order to talk through their problems and, when deemed appropriate, to put them in contact with specialist agencies to help with ongoing mental health problems.

Offering support and guidance to the prisoners, officers are endeavouring to work with agencies such as Veterans Welfare, Service Personnel and Veterans Agency, the Royal British Legion and Combat Stress. More recently, VIPA has also been attempting to engage the various Regimental Associations.

This is a most important initiative and deserves as much support as possible. With additional mentor support from members of the various Regimental Associations and the Royal British Legion, the ex-military offenders can be helped back to a full and productive life. Let us hope that the government and Regimental Associations back these admirable efforts.

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