Veterans Incarcerated

Notes from Matt Davison, VietNow National Veterans Incarcerated Chairman

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Many people refer to imprisoned veterans as “incarcerated veterans,” but we think of them as “veterans incarcerated,” because they were veterans before they were incarcerated. VietNow believes that all veterans, regardless of their present circumstances, and regardless of the mistakes they may have made, deserve to be recognized for the service they gave to their country.

Some people ask me why I do what I do, attempting to transform lives of Veterans Incarcerated. Some people say they’re criminals. They broke the law and have to pay. Most people don’t consider that maybe PTSD has something to do with choices made at a young age, or that self-medicated drug use, in order to forget, could lead to addiction and imprisonment.

I work with veterans who took part in the invasion of Iwo Jima, and fought in the Solomon Islands during world War II. I work with decorated veterans who were turned around after the war and made bad choices. What I tell these people is that the men I train for successful and productive releases back into their communities were veterans first, and they must be recognized for their service and their sacrifice.

They didn’t run when they were called to war, and we can’t run from them when they extend their hands.

Our long-time Incarcerated Veterans chairperson calls it a day
Looking back over fifteen years of helping veterans incarcerated get over the shame and loss of hope.

Brotherhood revisited
Nowhere else has brotherhood been suppressed so much as in prison.

Veterans incarcerated catching fire in VietNow
VietNow offers hope for more veterans incarcerated.

The good – the bad – and the indifferent for veterans incarcerated
While people congratulate and thank veterans for their service, veterans incarcerated get none of this recognition.

Visit to an Incarcerated VietNow chapter
A visit to the Elgin Mental Health Center chapter of VietNow shows that veterans are still veterans no matter where they are and what they’re doing.

The lost
When you think about incarcerated veterans, what comes to mind? Personality disorder? Dysfunctional? Screwed up? Or do you even think about them at all? Do you care?

War without end
A veteran incarcerated knows he did wrong, but he needs some help.

Veteran’s court. What’s that?
Trying a different way to help veterans who have taken a wrong turn.

The tipping point
When you hear about a veteran in prison, do you ever wonder how he got there?

A word from a veteran incarcerated
The reasons for our incarcerations are as varied as our backgrounds.

Paying it forward
Veterans incarcerated paying back and paying it forward.

How does an ancient Greek tragedy relate to veterans?

The brothers of Holman Unit – Atmore, Alabama
These veterans were not always incarcerated.

A voice from behind the walls
How a veteran incarcerated plans to prevail – not just survive.

Looking back. Moving forward
Much has been done. Much more work still lies ahead.

The night John came to visit
Former POW John Fer tells his story to veterans incarcerated.

Putting a human face on veterans in need and at risk
Many people seem to think that some veterans have chosen to live on the streets or to become criminals

Veterans Incarcerated chapter meeting in Nebraska
Second visit with the Tecumseh State Correctional Institute VietNow chapter (Nebraska – Incarcerated) just as rewarding as the first.

A man broken by war.
A veteran incarcerated tells his story, and wonders if he can be fixed.


blurbmattA former Air Force Top Secret Intercept Radio Operator, Matt Davison was stationed in Misawa, Japan, as the Vietnam war was heating up. He has spent the last 13 years as a veterans advocate – serving homeless, addicted, dual-diagnosed, and veterans incarcerated. Matt is an accredited Veteran Service Officer, and continues his work, serving our most disadvantaged veterans.