Veterans event Aug. 27 in Angie

Published 10:16 am Friday, August 21, 2015

The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, in collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs, is holding a day-long Veterans Summit on Thursday, Aug. 27.

Rayburn Correctional Center in Angie is hosting the third annual event at the Bethel Interfaith Chapel on facility grounds. RCC is home to a local Post of the national organization, Veterans of the Vietnam War Inc., and the Veterans Coalition.

Approximately 220 incarcerated veterans from various state correctional facilities, as well as local, state and federal dignitaries and special guests, are expected to attend. More than 200 offenders, staff and visitors participated in the 2014 event, either in person or via simulcast. Last year’s event also featured the conferring of 108 Louisiana Veterans Honor medals to eligible incarcerated veterans, which is believed to be the single largest distribution of the honor medal since its creation by Gov. Bobby Jindal in 2008.

The summit’s purpose is two-fold. First, the event brings veterans affairs leaders together to present information about programs and services available. Secondly, the summit allows incarcerated veterans to interact with the larger community. The informational event features speakers from various state and federal agencies, as well as civic organizations, which will address topics important to veterans and their families, such as health care benefits, disability and pension information and eligibility, homelessness, transition assistance, education and training, PTSD and job search assistance, as well as how to initiate claims and appeals.

“Approximately 1,350 veterans are assigned to DOC custody, and more are involved with the criminal justice system in some way with probation, parole supervision, pre-trial or veterans courts,” said DPSC Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc. “It is important that DOC leverage all available resources to assist these individuals during incarceration and, most importantly, when they return to the community. In most cases, we will be helping more than just the veteran — we will be helping families, too. DOC thanks its local, state and national partners in this effort.”

David LaCerte, secretary of Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, also offered his thoughts.

“It is my honor to partner with the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections for the 2015 Veterans Summit,” LaCerte said. “Regardless of their current situation, these veterans served our country with honor, and I am pleased to connect them and their families with the resources available to them.”

RCC Warden Sandy McClain said everyone is welcome.

“RCC is proud to host this event to allow interaction between the veteran peer groups from our different units. Some of the best ideas and solutions come from people having common issues discussed, realizing they are not alone in their struggles,” McCain said.