NSP Veterans Club celebrates service and camaraderie at annual banquet

NSP Veterans Club celebrates service and camaraderie at annual banquet

About 60 incarcerated men gathered in honor of service, sacrifice and camaraderie during the Veterans Club Annual Banquet at the Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP) on Nov. 6.

Members of the NSP Veterans Club, which meets twice a month, attended the banquet alongside NSP Warden Robert Madsen, Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) Director Scott R. Frakes, state Chief Human Resources Officer Jason Jackson, state senators, executives from the Veterans Affairs office and many others.

The NSP Veterans Club commander said all of the veterans at NSP – about 140 in total – form a tight-knit group. However, one does not have to have served in the armed forces in order to participate in the Veterans Club. Associate club members (non-veterans) are also extremely valuable, the club commander explained.

“I believe they get satisfaction in participating in memory of a friend or family member who has served, is currently serving or was maybe lost in battle,” he said. “It helps you to cope. It gives you a safe environment for people to interact and let their guard down.”

The banquet started with a posting of the colors and pledge of allegiance before guest speaker Jason Jackson shared a few words about his service and his love for this country. Jackson served five years in the Navy and now serves at Governor Ricketts’ Chief Human Resources Officer.

“I think it’s wonderful that this group pulls all of their experiences together to help each other through current struggles,” Jackson said to the club. “I couldn’t be prouder of what you guys have built here together.”

Following Jackson’s remarks, Bill Fitts – NSP volunteer and professor of English at Union College – took the floor to play a few songs with a group of Union College students. The band started their set with John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” and it wasn’t long before nearly every person in the room was singing along.

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Vets Club here,” said Union College student Faith Anderson, who sang and played the violin during Monday’s performance. “I’m really excited to get to know some of these individuals.”

Incarcerated men and guests alike shared a few moments of silence before retiring the colors and convening for a group meal.