Salvation Army joins forces to assist vets

by Kamara Sams Holden and Carla L. Jackson – 

CONRAD WATSON, Harbor Light executive director, speaks at a press conference announcing the new Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program.

At a recent press conference, it was announced that The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center, in a unique collaboration with Volunteers of America, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Community Transition Unit, the State of California Employment Development Department, and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, plans to operate an outcome-based, employment-driven Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program (IVTP), funded by a $250,000 grant by the State of California Employment Development Department.

The Los Angeles County Jail houses approximately 20,000 inmates. About 600 inmates are released daily from custody and an estimated 10% of those inmates are veterans. IVTP will help incarcerated veterans in the LA County Men’s Jail successfully reintegrate into the community through educational and vocational training, as well as transitional or permanent housing which will be provided by The Salvation Army and Volunteers of America Los Angeles (VOLA).

“We want IVTP to be known as one of the most successful veteran reintegration programs in the nation. Studies have already shown that positive intervention can cut veteran recidivism rates in half. This benefits the community by contributing to safer streets, reducing the city’s victimizations, decreasing costly incarceration, and preventing wasted human potential,” said Conrad Watson, executive director of The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center.

The grant will be split equally between The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center and the Volunteers of America Los Angeles, with the immediate goals of: reaching 300 veterans in the first year; placing a minimum of 160 veterans in transitional and/or permanent housing; and employing a minimum of 120 veterans.

“It is important to stress each of our unique strengths in our work with men and women inmates. This collaboration offers each organization an opportunity to be of greater service by combining our special skills, which for VOLA includes high rates of employment placement for inmates, and for The Salvation Army, specialized inmate training and assessments,” noted James Howat, director of Volunteers Of American Los Angeles.

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