Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

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January 31, 2011

Veterans unit opens at IREF

INDIANAPOLIS — There are 28  veterans now living in a specialized dormitory in Indianapolis.

The Indianapolis Re-Entry Educational Facility is a minimum-security level facility that maintains public safety while providing residents with the skills required for successful re-integration into the community, with the ultimate goal of reducing recidivism. It is a part of the Indiana Department of Corrections.

“In the state of Indiana, there are more than 1,400 incarcerated veterans,” said Alexis Dean, the new dorm’s re-entry specialist. “That’s a large population that have specialized benefits they may not know they are eligible for.”

The idea was first discussed more than a year and a half ago and is now finally coming together.

“This all started long before I came into the picture,” Dean said. “It’s been coming down the pipes for a while.”

Along with the incarcerated veterans, there are also several veterans who work for the Department of Corrections.

“And many of these veterans work at the Central Office,” Dean said. “They’ve been an excellent driving force, making connections with different veterans’ affairs offices.”

She said this particular IDOC population has been overlooked and may be misinformed as to what benefits they may have. The program at IREF is the first specialized veterans program in the IDOC and can provide services to up to 106 residents.

“We currently have 28 veterans living in the dorm,” Dean said. “They were already here at IREF. Many of them had actually already identified themselves to each other and were meeting on a regular basis to talk.”

She said they had made their presence known to one another, even if they didn’t live in the same dormitory.

Dean said having all of the veterans together in one dorm will make it much easier for programs that come into the facility.

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