Veterans, and the problems they suffer with, mostly in silence, are often exacerbated when they resume civilian life. Although post-traumatic stress disorder and drug addiction are not new trends, the recurring wave of suicides among veterans give cause for concern. Although there are other government programs working to address this issue, the “Greenlight a Vet” campaign is spearheading a more visible grass-roots national support for these hard-working men and women.
The “Greenlight a Vet” campaign recognizes the need for veterans to experience this support on a tangible level. The campaign invites Americans to show their support by installing a green light bulb on their front porch or other visible part of their homes. This color is meant to represent renewal and hope. This campaign is geared toward raising awareness for the struggles America’s veterans face daily. Some of the goals of “Greenlight a Vet” include.
- Provide more employment opportunities for veterans
- Initiate mentoring programs
- Offer volunteering opportunities for civilians at local veteran centers
- Facilitate donations for needy service men and women
- Bring more awareness to the needs, concerns and issues facing veterans through social media.
Addiction and PSTD Among Veterans
Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are common among military personnel. These conditions are high risk triggers for drug abuse and addiction. Statistically, at least 75% of combat veterans diagnosed with PTSD also met the criteria for long term alcohol and drug addiction. Data shows over 364,894 vets are currently battling PTSD and at least 30% of all Vietnam veterans suffered with this condition at some point in their lives. More recently, a 2014 study supported by the American Psychiatric Association of 204,000 veterans indicate that most failed to complete Veterans Affairs therapy for PTSD.
Primary substances of abuse among adults in uniform include alcohol and prescription drugs. At least 27% of soldiers met the criteria for alcohol use disorder 3 to 4 months after returning from deployment to Iraq. Another major concern is the increasing use of prescription drugs used by veterans to treat manage both emotional and physical pain. Studies indicate that between 2005 and 2008 the rate of prescription drugs used by the military tripled.
Mental illness, another precursor to addiction, also ranked high among veterans. Outcome results of diagnostic test showed 20% of active and 42% of reserve soldiers suffered from mental illness and addiction, and required mental health care. Drug or alcohol use that typically accompanies PTSD and mental disorder also reportedly attributed to 45% of completed veteran suicides from 2005 to 2009.
Treatment for Veterans
Veterans face a unique set of issues after combat situations. Many are severely wounded, have witnessed the death of friends, or struggle with the taking of lives. Many come face to face with death for the first time and are unable to cope with the recurring memories and emotional trauma of war after returning home. These are the issues that drive drug and alcohol abuse, which treatment must address.
Trauma care and dual diagnosis treatment are common components of recovery for most war veterans. The continuum of care for military personnel that begins early is a preventative measure that can go a long way in enabling a veteran to resume a normal life. The complexity of combat-related PTSD among vets also makes it necessary for treatment to be comprehensive and integrate a holistic approach with the goal of healing mind, body and spirit, rather than just addressing the stress-related symptoms or addiction alone.
Substance abuse, mental health intervention, and continuing care can stop the progression of these conditions that lead to long term addiction, criminal activity, and out-of-control lives experienced by many veterans.
Programs such as “Greenlight a Vet” are important awareness and conversation openers about and with vets needing treatment and other types of support that would normally stay under the radar. To find out more about the “Greenlight a Vet” visit greenlightavet.com to show your support and learn more about the Greenlight Beacon Day parade.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.