New program designed to help jailed veterans

LERDO, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) The Kern County Sheriff's Office unveiled a new program Thursday designed to rehabilitate military veterans serving sentences at Lerdo Jail.{}The program, which officials say will use existing resources, will impact 30 veterans, with hopes of expansion.{}Lt. Kevin Wright said the program is "designed to provide those veterans who are incarcerated with mental health services, veterans services, exposure to housing, medical, jobs when they get out of custody, so they can go on to lead successful lives in our community."{}Sheriff Donny Youngblood, a Vietnam veteran, spoke at a ceremony honoring the veterans for their service.{}"It's pretty cool to be the sheriff of a county that cares so much about their veterans because I came home from Vietnam in 1970 and no one cared," Youngblood said. "we're not honoring the fact that they're here. ... They did something that got them here. What we want to do is help them not come back here."{}One of the veterans, Aaron Felix, said he is currently serving time for driving under the influence.{}"I think it's nice, actually, to see them put effort for us," Felix said. "That means they're putting their time and effort and money into us too, so it's a good thing to have that. So they remember what's going on and what we're here for."{}The ceremony also unveiled a new flagpole and new plaques honoring each branch of the military, which were paid for in part by staff members.{}"It's a big deal, especially being over here, even if we are on the other side of the fence," Felix said.