Late Breaking News
White House Report Puts Spotlight on Military, Veteran Drug Abuse Cont.
- Categorized in: Addiction, August 2011, Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), HHS and USPHS, PTSD, TBI, Trauma
Targeting Jailed Veterans
The ONDCP also will work with federal health agencies to support programs designed to intervene with veterans in prison or who are about to be released from prison. According to the strategy, DoD, VA, HHS and the Department of Justice will work together to examine the role of TBI and PTSD in substance abuse among incarcerated veterans. ONDCP also will encourage the use of veteran’s treatment courts.
Such courts, based on the drug-court model, work to help keep in treatment drug-addicted or mentally-ill individuals facing incarceration. Veterans treatment courts include a partnership with VA and other veteran-support organizations.
Focus also will increase on veterans about to be released from prison. According to the ONDCP, of the approximately 140,000 veterans in federal and state prisons, about 40,000 are released each year. A recent survey revealed that an estimated 60% of them struggle with a substance-abuse disorder. Along with substance-abuse disorders, many have mental-health problems, which, if left untreated, help contribute to the homeless-veteran population.
VA currently attempts to reach these veterans through the Healthcare for Reentry Veterans Program, in which VA conducts prerelease assessments with veterans six months prior to release. The goal is to connect these veterans with critical services, such as substance-abuse treatment and VA health care at the time of their release.
According to VA, the program is conducted in 72% of U.S. prisons and, in the last three years, has assisted 25,000 veterans, approximately 45% of whom access VA outpatient services during their first year out of prison. While VA has made significant efforts to reach veterans, however, this represents less than one-fourth of the approximate 120,000 veterans released from incarceration during those three years.
ONCDP plans to partner with VA to explore ways to better identify incarcerated veterans with substance-abuse disorders and conduct reentry planning at an earlier phase of incarceration.