IF YOU ARE A VETERAN AND ARE HAVING THOUGHTS OF SUICIDE, PLEASE CONTACT THE VETERANS CRISIS LINE by dialing 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1.
As a veteran, it can be challenging to re-enter civilian life after military service. It can take time to reacclimate to new ways of doing things, and it can even take time to get used to being around family, friends and familiar surroundings again. For veterans who engaged in combat or experienced trauma or injury, like a traumatic brain injury (TBI), that adjustment process can be even more complicated.
It is not uncommon for veterans to experience mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. In fact, according to a 2014 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, in comparison to the general civilian population, veterans are 15 times more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 5 times more likely to report symptoms of depression. Unfortunately, trauma, anxiety, and depression can also increase a person’s risk for substance use disorder (SUD). In fact, according to a 2019 article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the rate of opioid overdose among veterans increased by 50% from 2010 to 2016.
In fact, according to a 2019 article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the rate of opioid overdose among veterans increased by 50% from 2010 to 2016.
Signs to Look For
Some of the signs to look for in yourself or a veteran you know that may indicate they are struggling with a SUD include:
Increased tolerance or using greater amounts of a substance to feel its effect
Inability to stop using a substance even when there are negative consequences
Take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Confidential counselors are available for service members and their families through Military One Source at 1-800-342-9647.
Take time to reconnect with your family and friends.
Recognize that it’s ok and normal to be frustrated while returning to civilian life.
The Veterans Services program within the Natick Community Services Department can provide assistance in navigating the complexities of the healthcare system, including finding resources for treatment and recovery from substance use disorder close. Paul Carew, the Director of Veterans Services and ADA Coordinator, can be reached out firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-647-6545.
The Natick community is also fortunate to have two SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training) support group meetings for veterans and their family members.
Kids Serve Too is a new after school club in Natick designed for elementary and middle school kids who have an intimate family member in the military or retired family members.
Who: Kids Serve Too is for kindergarteners through 8th graders. Older people are welcome to help out!
Where: Wilson Middle School
When: October/November to the end of the school year
Why: To help create a bond between Natick and military children. We will have a range of different activities, guest speakers, and enlighten the Natick community about what it’s like to be a military kid.
The Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services advocates on behalf of all the Commonwealth’s veterans and provide them with quality support services and to direct an emergency financial assistance program for those veterans and their dependents who are in need.
Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Red Sox Foundation have developed a program called Home Base. Home Base assists post-9/11 veterans, service members, and their families through clinical care, wellness, education and research. Their focus is on “invisible wounds”, such as PTSD, TBI, other mental health concerns, co-occurring substance use disorders, military sexual trauma, family relationship concerns, and other issues related to a veteran’s military service.