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Reaching out with a helping hand: County, state officials team up to help vets released from jail

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MILWAUKEE COUNTY (WITI) -- They served our country, lost their way, and now they need a helping hand. Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announced on Tuesday, February 10th an initiative to help veterans recently released from incarceration. The new program is called MC Cares.

"If we can't get it right by vets, we don't deserve to call ourselves effective public servants," Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said.

Beginning this month, all veterans released from the Milwaukee County House of Correction and prisons across Wisconsin who are returning to Milwaukee County will receive an MC Cares package and the opportunity to meet with staff at the County Veterans Service Office and the Department of Workforce Development, Office of Veterans Services.

"What this program is doing is allowing us to take the first step toward that recently released veteran -- to reach out to him or her and say 'hey, come to our office. Let's work together on achieving some positive outcomes in your life,'" Milwaukee County Veterans Services Director Jim Duff said.

The MC Cares package is donated by the Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative. It provides personal care items to recently released veteran inmates and information on how they can connect with a wide array of veterans and social service benefits, including health care, dental grants, education, job search assistance, legal consultation, FoodShare and medical assistance appointments -- and there are even bus passes so they can get to and from services and job interviews.

"The care packages being offered by the county and the Milwaukee Homeless Vets Initiative are going to serve as a pathway for veterans who have made mistakes but are nonetheless desired of our compassion to achieve recovery, rehabilitation and ultimately redemption," Department of Corrections Regional Chief Neil Thoreson said.

An estimated 100 Milwaukee County veterans will be released from prison and the House of Correction this year. Each will receive an MC Cares package.

"This is just another example of how one segment of our population can be brought to feeling that level of independence that we hope for all of our veterans," Kirsten Sobieski with the Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative said.

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