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Treatment programs help veterans for the return home

March 19, 2009
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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A California center subsidizes its residential and outpatient treatment

A number of addiction treatment organizations are doing their part to ensure that veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have access to supports to ease the transition back to their communities.
A Better Tomorrow
, which operates a 60-bed facility and outpatient services in Murrieta, California, has for the past year offered free outpatient services (up to three days a week for up to a month) to veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. A couple of months ago it also decided to discount its residential treatment services by 50% for veterans who might need a more intensive level of care, says A Better Tomorrow president Jerrod Menz. Although only about half a dozen outpatients and one residential client have received services under the program so far, Menz believes the center is providing an important alternative for returning veterans who might not want to pursue health services through military challenges for fear of repercussions. “A lot of times you’re better off being a drunken sailor than to be in rehab,” Menz says of the military culture. A treatment site outside the Department of Defense or Department of Veterans Affairs might offer clinical benefits as well, he believes. “It lets veterans be more honest about their issues,” Menz says. More information about A Better Tomorrow’s program is available by calling (800) 517-4849. Headlines about efforts to improve behavioral health services for veterans with substance use issues and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been everywhere in recent months. In New York, the Outreach Training Institute has received special funding to offer honorably discharged veterans a full scholarship for its counselor education program that prepares students for state licensure. And on Capitol Hill, U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts has introduced two veteran-related bills, including one to create a pilot program for the training of counselors in higher education institutions to recognize the signs of PTSD. Watch for the March/April issue of
Addiction Professional and its cover story on how addiction treatment organizations are trying to meet the needs of returning veterans.