Helping Veterans Heal

The Hamilton County Justice Center has established a pod to create a community among veterans and provide them with educational and mental health services.

Volunteers from local colleges and the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs), along with motivational speakers and formerly incarcerated veterans, visit pod N4G to talk with veterans.

In addition, N4G offers the Freedom 101 program four times a year to educate incarcerated veterans about the resources they may need upon release. Office supervisor Dick Ruzsa, a veteran himself, schedules this program.

The men in the housing unit learn from each other and can help each other heal, Ruzsa said.

“No one really knows what they’ve been through, but they’re all military, so they get it. Many of the men who come through pod N4G have developed PTSD or are dealing with a traumatic brain injury.”

Ruzsa is working to rename N4G to “The Sister Kateri Maureen Koverman Memorial Veterans Pod.” The late Sister Kateri, a therapist, helped establish the housing unit. Kateri developed PTSD from her volunteer work in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

“It left a big void when she passed,” Ruzsa said. “She was the only one giving any real therapy in the pod.”

Ruzsa sees his work as a chance to help other veterans.

“My goal since Day One has been that everyone who leaves here has a place to stay and a purpose,” Ruzsa said. “Every single one of these men have signed on the dotted line promising to give up their own lives to protect our country.”

Susan Murdock, an organizer of Freedom 101, runs the therapy program for the veterans, and another for the women in the Recovery Pod. Currently, Murdock is providing the only therapy veterans receive in the Justice Center.

“These guys have given so much,” Ruzsa said. “We need to be giving more back.”