As the Operations Manager at Confidential Recovery, and being a Veteran-in-recovery, the welfare of my fellow Vets is something that I am faced with every day, in both my personal and professional life.
Veterans are trained to develop a warrior ethos, which prioritizes self-sufficiency and sacrifice over personal well-being, so they will likely not tell you if they need help, but they shouldn’t have to. Just look at these numbers:
Current Challenges Facing Vets
Being a Veteran has not gotten easier since the pandemic began in 2020. Like everyone else, Vets saw many of the services they depend on, like physical and mental healthcare, get interrupted.
The isolation during the pandemic increased the prevalence of alcohol use disorder among Vets. The presence of the hyper-potent and deadly opioid fentanyl in up to 80% of all counterfeit and illegal drugs4 has led to the accidental overdose of many Vets.
On top of that, there’s a lot of discouragement within the ranks of Veterans around the end of the Afghanistan conflict, and its perception as a lost cause. Also, the constant news stories and imagery from the ongoing war in the Ukraine can be trigger painful memories and exacerbate the symptoms a Veterans PTSD.
Reasons For Hope for Veterans on this Veterans Day
Thankfully, there are reasons for hope. The stigmatization of mental health issues has lessened, thanks in no small part to many brave athletes and other influential people who have opened up about their struggles.
Also, there are more ‘evidence-based’ tools at our disposal than ever before to address mental health issues, including substance use disorders. This includes a variety of therapy modalities that help address symptoms of PTSD, like EMDR.
Medication assisted treatment for substance use disorders has experienced a revolution in the last two decades, and we now have medications like Suboxone that can drastically reduce cravings and increase comfort during early recovery from opioid use disorder.
Technology has also lent us a hand in the form of telehealth treatment. More people, including those in rural areas, can access therapy and doctor appointments remotely than ever before, thanks to videoconferencing software, which can keep anyone with a cell phone connected to their support system. This has been wonderful in alleviating the isolation that many Veterans feel.
In San Diego there are many positive developments. We recently participated in a Round Table about improving Veterans’ housing with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Congressman Mike Levin at the Oceanside V.A. And, last month came the announcement that San Diego County Supervisors were launching a program prioritizing the employment of Veterans in government agencies as well as the establishment of a resource center for Veterans in East San Diego County.
Finding gainful employment is often a struggle for Vets, so the recent announcement that San Diego County Supervisors are prioritizing the hire of Veterans is another example of good news for Vets.
How Veterans can Access Help
For Veterans in any state, including those who are in crisis, The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a 24/7 crisis line where veterans can call 988 and press 1, or text (838255) and speak with a crisis counselor.
If you know a Veteran in California who is not in crisis, but struggling with some aspect of their life as a civilian, you can have them visit the Veterans Navigation Center’s site and submit a form or call them. The Veterans Navigation Center provides the Veteran with a Case Manager who can provide guidance in accessing benefits, and mental/physical healthcare.
Thank you for your support of our Veterans this Veterans Day.
Jay Wylie, Operations Manager and Veteran Coordinator at Confidential Recovery
Jay Wylie is a Southern California native who served as a Naval Officer for 22 years. However, a serious drinking problem derailed that career and returned him to civilian life. Facing the same dark crossroad that all substance abusers face, Jay chose recovery and is now over a decade sober. He is very active in the 12-Step community, and is completing his certification as a Substance Use Disorder Counselor. He currently resides in San Diego with his wife and 2 children.
1. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: https://www.va.gov/reach/lethal-means/
2. Boston University: https://www.bu.edu/articles/2021/in-20-years-since-september-11-military-suicides-have-risen-sharply/
3. ABC News: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/veterans-report-arrested-effort-understand/story?id=89968115
4. KUSI: https://www.kusi.com/up-to-80-of-illicit-drugs-are-laced-with-fentanyl-says-scott-silverman/
🪖 🎖️Today, March 29, is National Vietnam War Veterans Day – a day dedicated to our nation's heroes who served in that war. Fifty years have passed since the final American military forces left Vietnam and our remaining prisoners of war were returned. Even after the passage of five decades, we still owe these veterans a large debt of gratitude. During the conflict, political controversy and disagreement were sadly misdirected toward those who had admirably served our nation. When these brave warriors returned from Vietnam, they received neither a hero’s welcome nor appreciation for their service that they deserved, but instead got apathy, anger and hate. Disappointingly, many were left to struggle alone with self-doubt, shame and the memories of those left behind. After their wartime service ended, these unsung heroes went to work, served in government and became involved in their communities. Vietnam War-era veterans went on to lead Fortune 500 companies, direct Oscar-winning films, create a prominent computer-programming language, map the human genome and many other outstanding accomplishments. Today, there are approximately 6 million living veterans from the Vietnam era – more than 30% of America’s veteran population. We offer our sincerest thanks on this momentous day to all of those brave souls who served! 🪖 🎖️
🪖 🎖️ Don't be afraid to ask a Veteran: “Have You Thought About Harming Yourself?” It might seem scary and awkward to ask them directly about suicide, but the Veteran in your life deserves it. Veterans are 50% more likely to commit suicide than non-Veterans. In this article, 'Veteran-in-recovery' Jay Wylie says: “It’s a conversation that needs to be had because, frankly, the Vet in question probably wants to talk about it. Being able to share your difficulties with someone who cares can be a huge relief.” Read an article about this important topic here: https://bit.ly/3a0TaI5