HDSP incarcerated veterans support each other

Incarcerated veterans at stand as a group in a prison chapel.
The incarcerated Veterans Group at High Desert State Prison offer support and help with PTSD.

An incarcerated veterans group at High Desert State Prison (HDSP) meet weekly in the Facility Chapel as a way to connect and support each other.

HDSP veterans group is a support group program that allows incarcerated veterans and others to join. With the facility returning to normal programming, they are working on new ways to offer support as well as strengthen what they’ve already established.

The group is continuously working on group sessions focusing on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for military veterans. They said they take pride in celebrating military holidays such as Veterans Day.

The veterans talk about the importance of history, special holidays and inception anniversaries.

HDSP incarcerated veterans discuss importance of military

A group reflects on the importance of being a military member, flag etiquette and flag-folding ceremonies. They also help new members with learning about Veteran Affairs and how to fill out paperwork. The group is enthusiastic about helping each other though group therapy.

Other ways they are supporting each other is through planned yard exercise days featuring healthy competition. Physical exercise helps build group teamwork while also encouraging each other to do better. Newsletters are created by the group, which helps new arrivals know there is a veterans group and how to become involved.

Future plans include fundraisers benefiting veteran-sponsored organizations such as Honor Flight, or local veteran groups. Group members also hope to help children-focused organizations in the future.

The HDSP staff member who works with the veterans is a U.S. Army veteran himself. Associate Governmental Program Analyst W. Presswood served in the military from 1995 to 2006. 

“The Veterans Group is camaraderie and hope. This is the reason we come here. We show each other respect by having good healthy fun. We help each other when things get rough so we don’t get into trouble and make our situation worse,” said one of the members.

Attending their Nov. 4 meeting were Lieutenant J. Sieberg, U.S. Marine Corps veteran (1998-2007) and active National Guard, along with HDSP Chaplain Rabbi S. Orenstein.

“It was impressive to see everyone come together, share stories, and help each other out. We are proud they are going to celebrate Veterans Day this year and look forward to all the great things they have planned,” said Lt. Sieberg.

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