On The Road For Veteran Recovery

by Bridget on May 15, 2012

For many combat veterans, coming back home can be a very stressful and emotional time. Many of our soldiers come home experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder. PTSD can have very negative effects on an individual’s life and can lead them to have constant feelings of depression, anxiety and nervousness. This is why so many veterans develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Thankfully, Mike Jones, an Army veteran who served nine tours of duty in Iraq has brought attention to the plight of many of these returning soldiers by holding a motorcycle rally. The “All Rise America! National Motorcycle Relay for Recovery” is a 3,000 mile motorcycle ride across the United States. The cavalry will stop along the way at Drug courts, DWI courts and veteran’s treatment centers to applaud and bring awareness to the struggles so many veterans face when they come home from overseas.

 Orange County Combat Veterans Court

This rally is cosponsored by another group that Mr. Jones belongs to, the Orange County Combat Veterans Court. This unique program helps veterans who have been arrested for a substance abuse related offense get the substance abuse and mental health treatment they are entitled to. By having served in our armed forces, they earned benefits and services for health problems when they came back home. However, many of these soldiers do not know how to go about acquiring such services when they get back. Many are too proud to ask for help or even to admit that something is wrong. It is important that there are events and programs that continue to educate the population about the challenges out veterans face when they come back from war.

Drug Courts 

Drug courts are very beneficial for many soldiers who come home and get in trouble with substance abuse. Since many are first time offenders who are simply trying to self-medicate their PTSD symptoms, they are offered counseling rather than being punished with jail time. Drug courts give a person the opportunity to keep their freedom, and have access to trained medical professionals who can assist them get off of drugs or alcohol. Without drug or DWI courts, many veterans would come home in a daze, make a bad decision involving drugs or alcohol, and get thrown in jail. This is not how a country should treat the individuals who put their lives on the line to protect the rest of our freedoms.

By using the leverage of the court, veterans are coerced into seeking treatment for drug abuse issues they struggle with. Research shows that it is very unlikely that individuals who suffer from addiction will be able to get clean in jail. Even if they do, they will start using again as soon as they hit the streets. However, if veterans are presented with an alternative to jail, even if it doesn’t seem that appealing, they are more likely to choose treatment over incarceration. “I have first hand experience of what these programs have done for me,” said Jones, during the rally in LA. “When I came home I got hooked on drugs. Instead of being locked up I was given the opportunity to get treatment. It’s given me purpose and direction. I wouldn’t be here today without it.” We need to continue to promote programs and raise awareness for our returning veterans. They fight for us, the least we can do is return the favor when they get home.

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