Traveling Vietnam Memorial Visits a Prison for First Time Ever
“The Wall That Heals” is a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. that travels to communities throughout the country. The traveling memorial offers a chance for veterans to honor those who died fighting for their country, to remember, and reflect. This marks the first time the memorial has ever been inside a prison or visited Monterey County.
“This is a day in history for the Correctional Training Facility (CTF) Soledad prison. This is the first time in the United States that the mobile Vietnam Memorial Wall has ever been inside prison walls. Inmate veterans had this goal in their mind, to do this good thing, a great thing, for incarcerated veterans as well as for the Vietnam veterans in the community. We owe veterans much more than words. We owe veterans the way we live our lives as we utilize our freedom, so expensively purchased, as reflected in the silent testimony of the many names inscribed on this Vietnam Memorial Wall. May it be a day of remembrance,” said CTF Warden Randy Grounds.
The memorial was brought to CTF through the three-year effort of two combat veteran inmates who founded and operate the Veterans Services Office (VSO). Since the VSO started in 2005, it has assisted in the recovery of approximately $5 million in disability compensation to inmates for injuries received during military service. More than $4 million was available to the eligible dependents of those veterans. Of the more than 215 veterans paroled with VSO assistance, only two are known to have returned with parole violations. As of April 2011 there were 3,913 veteran inmates in California.
Two opening ceremonies were conducted at CTF for “The Wall That Heals.” The first one was June 22 inside the institution to acknowledge veteran inmates and recognize the efforts of the VSO. The second was June 25 in the CTF parking lot that was open to the public. The second ceremony provided the public an opportunity to honor those lost at war and acknowledge the efforts of the VSO. The memorial was available for public viewing from Saturday, June 25, to Monday, June 27.
CTF opened in 1946 as a camp administered by San Quentin State Prison before becoming its own prison by 1947. In 1951 Central Facility was opened and in 1958 North Facility opened. CTF has three facilities that operate independently of each other and securely house minimum- and medium-security inmates. CTF offers numerous self-help and vocational programs to the inmate population.