Daniel Erwin joined the Army when he was 17. From 2006 to 2007, he was stationed overseas, serving in Missoula, Iraq.
Fast forward ten years later, and he’s now serving time at the Monroe County Jail in Rochester.
On returning home from service, Erwin said, “it was extremely difficult. I resorted to drugs and alcohol first to cope with. Through about eight years of therapy, I’m in a better place now than I was back then.”
Though Erwin admits he’s now behind bars due to a violation of felony probation, he hopes a new program at the jail will help himself, and his fellow vets.
On Wednesday, a new veteran-specific housing unit in the jail was unveiled, along with new programs like substance abuse counseling, workforce development and housing assistance to help veterans like Erwin re-acclimate into society upon their release.
It will also see deputies who have served in the military assigned to this unit providing guidance and mentorship.
“Whenever you wake up in the morning and you’re in a place like this, and you see somebody who went through something similar that you’ve gone through, it’s easier to relate. It’s easier to kind of find the good in a bad situation,” said Erwin.
Monroe County Veterans Treatment Court Judge John DeMarco helped launch this program. He told News 8 it will give vets significant momentum when they’re released from jail.
“Pieces are already in place, they’ve already made the adjustment to the programs, and it’s ultimately reflective in the lowering of the recidivism, in terms of them committing new offenses,” said DeMarco.
Erwin is set for sentencing on October 2nd, when he expects to be released with time served. Though he admits, he’s going to need some help when he gets out.
“I’m going to need a service. So, I’m going to take advantage of this program and get those plans in line,” said Erwin.
Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn, Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo, and Veterans Outreach Center Executive Director Laura Stradley helped announce the new initiative Wednesday inside the jail.
O’Flynn said about 25 inmates currently serving time in the jail are military veterans. Almost all of them, he said, are voluntarily participating in the new housing and program.