Governor Eric Holcomb recently joined the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to declare September to be Recovery Month in Indiana. This national observance held every September since 1989 helps increase awareness surrounding mental health and addiction recovery.
HVAF is pleased to join our state and nation to celebrate those—especially veterans—who are in recovery. We are so proud of you! It takes courage to seek help and we want you to know that we are here to support you!
According to VeteranAddiction.org, veterans are at increased risk for substance use disorders directly linked to military service. This might include military culture, exposure to trauma, development of mental health disorders such as PTSD, and physical health issues. Substance use is also strongly linked to trauma, homelessness, mental health and physical health issues, and risk of suicide. The data is striking—more than 1 in 10 veterans have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder.
Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse provides more insight on drug and alcohol use among service members and veterans:
-Alcohol abuse and binge drinking are common among active-duty personnel. According to a 2015 Health Related Behavior Survey, more than 5% of military personnel are heavy drinkers. Heavy Drinkers consume 5 or more drinks at a time on 5 or more days a month. Additionally, 1 in 3 active-duty service members reported binge drinking, which tends to be more prevalent among combat veterans.
-Marijuana accounts for the vast majority of illegal drug use among veterans, with a 50% increase in the number of veterans seeking treatment at the VA from 2002-2009.
-More than 10% of substance use admissions at the VA were for heroin, followed by cocaine at 6%.
-Veterans are 1.5 times more likely to die from an opioid overdose than non-veterans.
Most veterans served at HVAF are struggling with substance use and a mental health diagnosis. In 2021, out of the 1,329 total veterans served, 979 veterans reportedly struggled with a mental health issue and/or substance use issue, or 74% of veterans served. As of June 30, 2022, 80% of the veterans served at HVAF this year report a mental health and/or substance use struggle.
At HVAF, we believe in hope, housing and self-sufficiency for veterans and their families. This includes a belief that recovery is possible. Since 2005, Fred Young has been serving as one of HVAF’s Peer Mentors. He is our longest tenured employee with 17 years of service at HVAF, and he also celebrated 22 years sober this spring. After leaving the Army, Fred battled alcohol addiction and spent 5 years homeless on the streets of Indianapolis. He uses his own experience to mentor veterans facing the same struggles—homelessness and addiction—to help them find a way to make better choices. You can read more about Fred here.
Please celebrate Recovery Month by making a donation to support HVAF of Indiana to help us continue the important work we are doing in our community!