In the military, a battle buddy is the person who looks out for you. He or she helps by assisting you in more complex tasks, holding you accountable to a moral framework, or they simply identify the things you can’t. It all works because in the course of service, the battle buddy has a sense of responsibility to your well being and this contribution to another is in direct relation to the contribution to the team. Its intended to be a positive, caring and very human relationship to another person and its bigger than the singular. One that takes the loss of another as if losing family…

I was talking to another inmate, Joe, the other night as we waited to exit the visiting room. Joe’s time is short in here and he started to talk about how he plans to help his cellmate after he leaves prison. His cellmate has been in prison 43 years and while parole is an option for him, it simply hasn’t materialized yet. Its unique to watch how this impacts Joe. He knows his cellmate has lost people long ago and Joe sees him everyday in a way the system never could. Joe just seemed at a loss at how to take care of his cellmate except to provide a pro social network for him after his departure. He spoke about how this cellmate will be a topic of conversation for his family and how they plan on visiting him after Joe leaves. The family wants to be a holiday component and a phone call away. They look to add him to their social capital and increase his human capital. This family, after supporting Joe, plan to be his cellmate’s family, even if that means he dies in prison unparoled.

The experiences men and women experience together when all they have, on any given day, is each other is the foundation of the battle buddy. Prison is a place of hardships, but need not be a place of hardened hearts, at least if you look for the humanity in it like the truly reformed do. I have been blessed to add a few new names to my heart’s family roster and some amazing people as battle buddies. Here’s to covering their asses when the days get tough and the shit gets thick…

by Rory Andes

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