Hamilton County Dedicates Veterans Jail Pod To Nun Who Pushed For It

Mar 20, 2018

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office is dedicating a pod for veterans at the Justice Center in memory of the woman who pushed for it. Sister Kateri Koverman died last October.

Koverman worked in Vietnam in 1975, and helped evacuate children during the war in Operation Babylift. After the war, she dedicated her life to helping veterans, co-founding Joseph House, a facility in Over-the-Rhine that serves veterans suffering from addiction.

Former soldier Aaron Henry says the pod is a fitting tribute. "This pod helps me. It gives us structure. I think what a lot of us lack when we get out is structure. It gives us discipline, it gives us each other, gives us the brotherhood. I think for a lot of us that's important. I think that's where we fail, not having each other's backs."

Jail pods are connected to inmate cells, and contain things like dining tables, benches, and a TV. Sheriff's officials say inmates have to earn the right to be housed in the veterans pod, but once there, they get access to counselors and services designed to help them once they're released.

HCSO Office Supervisor Dick Ruzsa says the idea is to help inmates find a place to stay when they're released, and create a plan for moving forward. "If that plan is treatment, if that plan is helping them find a job, that's what we're after. In the long term, we just don't want them to come back. We want to help them out. We feel that since they signed their name on the dotted line, we'd like to at least be able to help them so they don't come back."

Jail officials say they couldn't keep the emblems or the picture of Sister Kateri on the wall in any other pod without them being defaced.
Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Aaron Henry says having the pod makes a big difference. "I've been in the other pods in here as well. It's not like this. To be treated with some sort of respect and honor and realize that we are veterans, it helps us to pick ourselves back up and strive to do what's right," Henry says.

Ruzsa says the veterans pod is probably the cleanest in the justice center. "It doesn't smell like this in other pods. These guys have respect for each other, they help each other out. They have respect for this pod and you can tell. It shows," Ruzsa says.

The pod holds up to 16 veterans. Ruzsa says there are often more veterans than that in the Justice Center, but he doesn't know if there are enough to dedicate a second pod.