By Landon Bravo, Community Resources Manager
California Medical Facility
Those who once served in the military but now find themselves incarcerated through poor choices and antisocial behavior can help other military members from making the same mistakes thanks to the Military Assistance Program (MAP) at California Medical Facility (CMF).
Established in March 2016, MAP is an awareness program to enable inmates to explain to military service members the behaviors and attitudes that may lead to incarceration. The primary goal of MAP is to inform service members of the result of crime or continued destructive behavior, lack of responsibility and anti-social behavior as a way to help prevent them from entering the penal system.
The MAP sessions assist service members in understanding the pressures encountered within their peer groups. MAP inmate participants share their life experiences that led them to prison and help counsel, educate and support armed forces service personnel as a way to help them avoid the pitfalls of criminal behavior.
On May 5, CMF hosted MAP’s first face-to-face encounter with service members from Travis Air Force Base. Inmates housed at CMF warmly welcomed the military personnel into the institution to participate in a workshop on self-awareness and positive decision making. There were seven airmen from Travis accompanied by a captain, master sergeant and a staff sergeant. There were 14 inmate MAP members. One doesn’t need to be a veteran to be an inmate MAP participant.
Group discussions, choice-making testimonies, inmate one-on-one chats and a facility walk-through experience took place throughout the day. MAP members engaged the airmen every step of the way with insightful stories that expressed empathy, making amends and the living consequences of their negative choices.
In the end, the airmen, along with their commanders, requested a lengthier experience in the future with more personal stories from MAP members. The airmen also said they would spread the word throughout Travis Air Force Base about the MAP at CMF. They said they would recommend the program to those stationed at the base.
Inmate James Cross said he was appreciative of the effort it took to organize MAP.
“This program has had a profound impact on me,” he said. “I believe the experience was invaluable for all parties involved. I know it was for me.”
Cross said sharing his story with the military members was powerful.
“To be able to share my experience of bad choices and consequences along with preventive insight in the interest of giving back to the community was just amazing,” he said.