GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) -- It’s unfortunate but regardless of who you are, you sometimes make mistakes and for the veterans in the Gwinnett County Detention Center there is a new program to help them get back on track.
“It’s like I’m dreaming," said former Marine Michael Elder, one of the veterans who now reside in the barracks -- a therapeutic jail housing unit designated exclusively for inmates who have military background.
“I had PTSD symptoms and a lot of us because of our mental illness we try to self-medicate and once we get there we're like lost in that, and we continue to just spiral down but this program here it gives us the hope” said Elder.
Retired Army Ranger and current Sheriff’s Office employee Chief Solis came up with the idea for the community housing jail units. Currently the plan is to have a veterans unit, a substance abuse unit and general jail to community unit.
Officials say there is research to back up it’s success.
“Evidence based practice shows if you bring people that are like-minded together and give them a common goal they tend to do much better” said Jacob Baird with the sheriff’s office.
In addition, the veteran inmates will be linked with a wide range of services to treat everything from addiction to mental health.
“In the barracks we’re taking it a step further and providing additional resources because we appreciate the military service the men in this unit have given our country,” said Deputy Shannon Volkodav.
“I think Gwinnett County is going to set the standard and this is the first domino to fall” said Martez English.
Inmate Daylan Antoine agreed.
“It think it was a blessing, it’s not normal. They usually don’t do things like this especially in a place like this.”
But for many veteran inmates like Antoine it isn’t the resources they are celebrating but the humane treatment.
“For them to come in here and talk to us like we are someone instead of talking to us like we aren’t anyone it doesn’t make me feel like I’m an inmate at times I feel like a person, I kinda like it,” added Antoine.
Gwinnet County Sheriff’s Office says up to 70 inmates can be housed in the unit.