(Associated Press) The military veterans playing cards in the Albany County jail wear the same orange uniforms as everyone else, with “INMATE” printed down the legs. But their service offers one distinct privilege: a special cellblock where they can work through problems they often share, such as substance use and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“It’s not just us and our thoughts all day,” says 31-year-old Navy veteran James Gibson, who was serving a 60-day criminal contempt sentence. “Everybody who’s been in here has been in the service. So we can all relate to at least that.”

Such “veteran pods” are becoming an increasingly common part of state and county lockups as the criminal justice system focuses more on helping troubled former service members. Veteran inmates are more likely to have reported mental health issues, particularly PTSD, according to a snapshot of the prison population by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

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