Best of 2018: Real Help for Addicted Vets

Imagine an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. People sit in a group. My name is _________. I’ve been sober for three years. . . . I’ve been sober for six months. . . . I’ve been sober for ten years.

Then one stands and says, “I’ve been coming to these meetings and I’d been sober for two years, but this week I fell. I got drunk two days ago.”

Further, imagine that the other members tell this person he has to leave. He can no longer receive the help and encouragement of the group because he failed–once.

And because of this failure, he becomes homeless.

That’s not how AA works. But that’s what happens to people in addiction programs for US veterans. Vets who are homeless often must leave rehab programs for stumbling once more into the habit that has dogged them and shattered their lives.

And there is a connection between being a vet and being an addict, especially if the vet has served in combat. Becoming an addict is more likely for those who served with bullets flying around them.

Patrick Condrin writes: “Veterans diagnosed with PTSD and addiction have higher rates of substance-related relapses and related hospital admissions, more severe PTSD symptoms, shorter periods of being clean or sober (abstinence), and poor adherence to follow-up treatment.”

So how does putting an addicted vet who’s relapsed out on the streets help him? Or help us as a society with a big drug problem? It doesn’t. It prolongs the problem.

Can we not find a treatment option besides the streets for someone yearning to erase the horrible images of combat from their minds without drugs?

Jesus told us to forgive seven times seventy times. A no-tolerance approach to those who acquired addiction in the service of our country is not serving us well.

And if there’s one thing our nation should do well it is to serve those who’ve shaken up their lives to serve us.

It may be difficult and costly–but it is already costly. And it seems the least we can do even if we do it seven times seventy.

From July 23, 2018


Photo Credit: Pixabay

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24 Replies to “Best of 2018: Real Help for Addicted Vets”

  1. Thanks for bringing this problem to light. Veterans deserve the utmost kindness and compassion for disrupting their lives to protect our freedom. I was sad to learn they don’t receive the support they need.

  2. Nancy, I really appreciate your post. It resonated with me because I have 3 nephews who have served in the Canadian Military and had peace keeping tours of Bosnia and Afghanistan. All three witnessed terrible things and as a result have struggled with PTSD. In Canada, we too need to provide better support systems and counselling for our vets as they transition back from tours and as they cope with PTSD. I also think the general public needs to be more educated and aware of the issues vets face and the kind of support and encouragement they require. Thanks for your post.

  3. Wow! This is great. Thank you for raising awareness of such an important topic. It’s true- We need to have people and systems ready to help the people who have helped us!

  4. Woah! That’s awful, Nancy. I had no idea it was like that. I’ll be sure to mention this to everyone I can. Thanks for sharing, and you’re right, our vets deserve better.

    1. Thanks, Christina. I believe the problem is largely budgetary. For an addicted veteran to not be getting one-on-one counseling is appalling. The programs are underfunded and essentially lip service. God bless!

  5. Love this! Thank God that He doesn’t kick us to the kirb when we mess up. He is the example of how we are supposed to love others and extend grace to them just as we have been extended that same grace. The church needs to get significantly better at this.

    1. The Church does. And I would typically argue that the government has no business in such issues–except that these people are VETERANS. It is a legitimate function of government to provide for the vets. And it should be at the top of the list, not at the bottom. Thanks, Paul, and God bless!

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