Strengthening Families and the Veteran Community: 5 Ways to Show up for Veterans in Recovery

This month is Recovery Month, and for communities across the country, the focus is turning heavily toward all that needs to be done to better assist people who are struggling with an addiction disorder. The theme this year is Join the Voices for Recovery: Strengthen Families and Communities, and that means that the focus of many events is on providing information and resources that will unite those closest to the person living with an active addiction.

For veterans, addiction is a critical crisis. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), abuse of prescription drugs occurs in almost 12 percent of the veteran population as compared to about 4.5 percent among the civilian population. Unfortunately, NCADD also reports that only about 40 percent of veterans who screen positive for mental health disorders (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder) and addiction receive the treatment they need to heal.

As a community, it is clear what path we must forge together to address this problem: helping veterans to recognize the signs of addiction and mental health issues, learn about available resources, and then connect and maintain engagement with treatment services.

Here are just a few things we can do as a community to facilitate that process during Recovery Month:

1. Attend Recovery Month events and listen. There are events happening in honor of Recovery Month, many of them directed specifically at helping veterans connect with treatment services. Find some local events to attend, and then, just listen. Hear the stories of the panel participants, read the literature provided, and talk to the veterans in recovery who are in attendance. You can learn more about what is needed where you are from them than you can anywhere else. Hear the needs, and use your creativity and resources to help them begin the process of managing these issues.

2. Volunteer. There are a number of wonderful organizations dedicated to helping veterans and their families in crisis. From providing rides to and from doctors’ appointments to stuffing envelopes to fundraising and food drives, you can easily find something that is close to your heart and begin to give back.

3. Donate. Nonprofits and government organizations alike are struggling with funding. Addiction among veterans is a growing problem, and it is not an easy one to manage. Research organizations that need your help, see how they spend their funds, and determine which one will use your donations most effectively before donating.

4. Be there. Just being with a veteran who is in recovery helps. It lets them know that their community supports them, and that they have a place in the world.

5. Lobby legislators. Laws regarding healthcare coverage, treatment, and veterans’ services are changing all the time. Find out what is on the docket in your area and let your legislators know how you feel.

What will you do to support veterans in recovery in your community during Recovery Month?

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