By Lt. David Barksdale
To honor veterans, Valley State Prison (VSP) inmates had their photos taken with military officers who also enjoyed dribbling a ball. The prison’s fifth annual volunteer basketball game featured a visiting team that included current and former veterans on the yard. The event also boasted a military vehicle show.
The honor guard presented flags to start the Nov. 9 event. During the basketball game, there was a tie until the inmates took the lead, outscoring the visitor 103 to 97.
The event included Dr. Joel Rosenthal, retired National Training Director, VHA Veterans Justice Programs of Oakland; and various statewide Veterans Affairs (VA) volunteers, and other volunteers coming to Valley State Prison for the VSP 5th VA volunteer basketball game in honor of Veterans Day. During this event, Dr. Rosenthal and other volunteers gave an honorary certificate to the VSP veteran inmates.
The goal was to support the VA as well as encourage recovery, rehabilitation and reconnection for veteran inmates. The purpose of the event was to answer questions, honor past and present Veterans, present current information regarding detachment and allow inmates to view military vehicles.
The event helped raise donations for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the VA and local veteran-focused community charities.
Approximately 20 veterans services group inmates from the Inmate Leisure Time Activity Group participated.
The event incorporated three military vehicles from the local 1072nd Transportation Unit, thanks to the Armed Forces/Department of the Army and Air Force approval memorandum.
Local community veteran soldiers who are part of the 1072nd Transportation Unit accompanied the vehicles. The vehicles were parked in the main yard area for all to see as the driver of each vehicle stood nearby.
Dr. Rosenthal and volunteer VA Basketball players arrived mid-morning and were escorted to the gym. The volunteers wore basketball clothing including jerseys and competed in a very competitive game with inmate players. The volunteers spoke to inmates and answered questions.
Several soldiers attended including Robert Osuna; Jesus Gallegos; Christopher Garcia; Juan Castro; Mark Cordova; David Elizarraraz; Robert Manuszak; Ivan Moreno; Rubio Sergio and the Community Basketball Players Goose Arroyo; Steven Fahrbach; Jay Johnson; Joe Rosenthal; and Javi Piccolotti. Nearly 70 inmates attended.
Nearly $400 will be given as result of inmate donations on behalf of this event to local veterans serving charities.
“Our day there once again was nothing but terrific,” said Dr. Rosenthal. “And it seemed that all went smoothly. The game was a thriller with so much fun and good spirit. Thanks also to Shoe Palace as they sponsor us by providing our jerseys. So each time we come in, we wear them and bring the remainder in, and back out, for the inmates to wear during the game. Shoe Palace owners George and John Mersho have been great supporters.”