Help for Veterans: “Warrior Down” Program Aids Veterans Struggling with Substance Abuse, PTSD
November 11th was Veteran’s Day– a day dedicated to honoring and celebrating those brave men and women who served our country. For those who are unaware, Veteran’s Day was appointed a national holiday to honor our servicemen and women following the end of World War I. Until 1954 the day was known as Armistice Day but it has always been a sober day of remembrance for those departed and a celebration of the bravery and courage of those who have served in all branches of the military.
Yet for too long we have failed our veterans returning to civilian life after their service works. We allow them to go hungry, homeless, and struggle with the mental and physical scars they carry alone. There are few programs and limited funding for veteran medical services including psychological help, leaving them to flounder under the weight of incredible burdens. Burdens they acquired while serving their country.
A study in 2012 revealed that 22 veterans end their lives each day due to financial woes, mental and emotional, and other causes. That’s 50 percent more suicides among military veterans than any other demographic in the U.S.
Often these veterans, with little other options, turn to self-medication with illicit drugs or abuse of prescription medication as a means of relief from their mental and physical pain. Statistically, 20 percent of all veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder also suffer from a substance abuse disorder. Additionally, one-third of veterans seeking treatment for substance abuse are diagnosed with PTSD.
With these kinds of numbers among the courageous veterans, the American public owe them the help and support they need to heal and move on in life. One recovery program in Hamilton, New Jersey is doing just that.
City of Angels, founded by Kevin and Maryann Meara after the overdose death of their son in 2008, is reaching out to those veterans in need of substance abuse recovery help. Through a program called “Warrior Down”, the Meara’s are working to provide specialized treatment and support needed to help rehabilitate and heal those in need.
This isn’t the first time Meara has created an outreach program for veterans. According to NJ, Warrior Down was in effect until a few years ago, when the program slowly tapered off. Now, with the increased need of a program like the one City of Angel provides, Meara has re-instated Warrior Down just in time for Veteran’s Day.
“Warrior Down had a special meaning for me. No veteran left behind, just as no soldier gets left behind on the battlefield. Our men and women deserve a lot more than being dumped on the curb.” Kevin Meara said.
He also supports the establishment of a court specifically for veterans in New Jersey. He believes that veteran offenders are unfairly treated and misrepresented in common courts, which do not take into account the mental effects military service may have on a veteran. On Tuesday, the day before Veteran’s Day, Meara traveled to Toms River to speak in favor of developing a court system which would take these factors into account when dealing with the criminal cases of veterans.
Though Veteran’s Day has passed, let us not forget the men and women who have served our country and are now in need of our help in return. They carry scars for all of us; the least we can do is ensure they get the help they need.
What kind of government programs should be put in place to help veterans suffering from substance abuse and PTSD? Give us your opinions in the comments below!
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About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.