Vet Pod Inmate Continues to Go Above-and-Beyond
As we enter the building we can observe a mix of Veterans seated in a well lite comfortable waiting area, a common sight occurring daily in clinics and service centers across our country. But, this scene offers a unique twist, this Veterans service clinic, launched through a collaboration with the WestCare Foundation, Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs and the Department of Correction, is in a prison. It ensures these inmates half of whom served in combat no longer represent our country’s most isolated Veterans.
Today, each is confident of access to professionals representing multiple disciplines from services officers to civil legal and behavioral health professionals. This Veterans clinic has another unique element essential to its successful operation and customer service focus, Edwin Corbett, a Vet Pod inmate and Marine who serves as the inaugural volunteer Clinic Coordinator
Edwin understood some of the challenges when striving to provide professional services in a prison setting and determined it would take a Marine to help put things right. He recognized that to earn the confidence of inmates appointments had to be coordinated with individual schedules as well as security requirements.
Edwin worked closely with the Tera McElravy, the Vet Pod Unit Supervisor and other DOC staff to develop operational protocols to support the clinic’s mission and commitment to providing consistent high quality customer services. Additionally, they created the position of Volunteer Clinic Coordinator with Edwin agreeing to serve as the first Coordinator.
The benefits of these changes were immediately felt as Edwin implemented the improvements. The monthly services clinic now runs efficiently, a direct result of the inmates taking increased ownership for the programs offered in the Vet Pod Unit. For the Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs, WestCare Foundation and other partners committed to expanding our engagement with our country’s most isolated Veterans it offers a valuable lesson, include the inmates in the design and operation of the programs.
Edwin Corbet, a Veteran, observed a situation that required improvements to achieve its mission. He stepped up to the situation applying the same skills and competencies that make him a proud Marine. It is an important lesson to remember.