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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Support our veterans: say yes to the Substance Abuse Disorders Act

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President Obama with Executive Director Paul Riekoff
(the bald headed guy in the rear) and IAVA members

Listen up. Today, the daddy is feeling the IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America), the nation's first and largest group dedicated to the Troops and Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan . The daddy likes the group's cause, Paul Riekoff, the group's articulate Executive Director, and their commitment to work hard to stand by veterans.

The IAVA is endorsing S459: the Support for Substance Abuse Disorders Act.

The act does 3 things: Develops a comprehensive program for treatment, mandates independent report on substance of members of the Armed Forces, and develops a center for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and mitigation of substance abuse of members of the Armed Forces. Check out this story from their website:

IAVA Endorses S 459; Support for Substance Abuse Disorders Act
Posted by Tom Tarantino on February 27

IAVA has endorsed S 459, the Support for Substance Abuse Disorders Act; providing comprehensive review and reform action the Armed Services Substance Abuse Systems.

According to the 2005 Department of Defense Survey of Health Related Behaviors among Active Duty Personnel, 24 percent of the members of the Armed Forces surveyed reported symptoms of alcohol dependence and nearly 11 percent of the members surveyed reported use of an illicit drug. Misuse of controlled prescription drugs, particularly narcotic painkillers, is a significant and growing problem among members of the Armed Forces as well. While some commands and facilities in the Armed Forces provide outstanding services for members of the Armed Forces for substance use disorders, the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, and management of, and research on, substance use disorders in members of the Armed Forces is inconsistent in availability, structure, and success among the various Armed Forces.

This bill addresses the problems in 3 ways. First, it directs the DOD to develop a comprehensive plan on the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of substance abuse disorders in member of the Armed Forces. This plan will review and assess current capabilities and address: The availability of care through TRICARE, adequacy of DOD oversight of programs related to treatment and management, the adequacy of provider credentials, appropriateness of diagnostic protocols and their treatments, availability of care to members of the reserve forces, adequacy of current prevention measure currently in place, the need for confidentiality provisions to care, services for family members, participation of the Chain of Command, differentiation of disciplinary action and treatment, and coordination with other healthcare systems. Second, it mandates an independent report on substance abuse disorders in members of the Armed Forces. This study will require the Secretary of Defense to allow an agency such as the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a comprehensive study that covers all of the issues that were developed in the DOD’s plan. Finally it establishes a center for excellence in the prevention diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, and management of substance use disorders.

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To find out more how you can support this act, check IAVA's website (http://iava.org/) and their "Take Action" section.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Every body supports the veterans. After that black history stuff, I thought you were going to write about music and poetry.

Anonymous said...

Anon:
Are you a veteran? I ask because you seem to be more aware of the "support" out there than I've read in the press, blogs etc. I know the majority of service members are among the working poor --often not getting sufficient medical help or other social services upon discharge. Bankruptcy and divorce are skyrocketing among their ranks. Michele Obama has taken a special interest in these families and I think the general population is just catching on that we have many "forgotten" among those who served. If we're doing better in supporting our veterans, I'd appreciate learning more about it from you. Let's spread the word.

rainywalker said...

This is a program I can believe in daddyBstrong. The funding for TRICARE [retired & active duty]relating to PTSD was reduced in January by 15%. Some of the doctors here are taking the hit because they see the military doing nothing. The VA will be paying more shortly for those that have been released, discharged or retired. Military do not qualify for VA help [drugs, alcohol, PTSD, etc.] while on active duty.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

This is nothing but good. I can only imagine the horrors that veterans have to deal with on a daily basis. . . well, having lots of combat veteran friends and having been raised by a combat veteran and all his CV buddies, I guess I can do more than just imagine. . .

Now we also need to begin shedding light on the fact that substance abuse should be treated as an illness, that people should feel free to come forward and seek help with their addiction and when they do, there needs to be a room in a safe place for them to be treated.
Substance abuse is a national epidemic that we have swept under the rug for too long. From city streets to rural hollers it is becoming part of our self destruction.

MacDaddy said...

Anon: On October 13,2006, the San Diego Tribune wrote about starving military families in San Diego and how they relied on donations to get by. On January 15, 2003, the Global Policy talked about thousands of military families living in poverty all across the country. On December 19, 2002, the Pentagon itself admitted that thousands of military families were living in poverty (check NCPR archives). I recently saw a documentary on PBS about many military people on reserve losing their jobs. It said that employers, out of respect for the fact that they were doing active duty, would hold their jobs until they got back. However, when they did a second or third term of duty, they couldn't hold their jobs. So, even if they made it back without injury, often they came back to no job. And none of this deals with any of the issues they have adjusting to life back home like PTSD.

Despite the recent raise, Overall, I don't think things are going so well for military families. If you know something different, please share it with me and the readers who come to this blog (some of whom are veterans).

Rainy: TRICARE sounds good. Any chance that President Obama will give it more funding?

By the way, it will be interesting to see if President Obama follows through on the many promises he made to veterans during his campaign.I think he will. But if you come across any new info, please update us.

Sagacious: Well said. A friend of mine, who is also a friend of Keith Ellison, democratic congressman from Minnesota,says Nancy Pelosi sees it as a priority, and it should pass with no problems.We'll see.

rainywalker said...

I'm sure this reduction of funds for TRICARE will be increased once the new VA director and veteran director hit the ground. I'll keep my ear to the ground but am expecting to see more money to attack this huge problem.

Stella said...

MacDaddy, this post made my day. From a conservative blog friend, who always steers me to credible facts, I discovered that 154,000 veterans are homeless, most of whom fought in Viet Nam, mental illness is another major problem.

The IAVA have done some great work. Yet, where I live, I see many veterans struggling, having trouble getting medical assistance, drug rehab, housing, and food.

Despite the last "president's" crowing about how he raised Veterans' benefits, which he did, there was no transparency as to where the money went. And the increase wasn't sufficient because as he raised the number of troops in Afghanistan, I'm not sure we had enough money to help the additional veterans that came home wounded. And, if I'm not mistaken, weren't our troops taxed?

They military cut solidiers' benefits completely by transforming PTSD into Separation for Personality Disorder.

The Department of Veterans Affairs doesn't have to provide medical care to soldiers dismissed with personality disorder. That's because under Chapter 5-13, personality disorder is a pre-existing condition. Soldiers... can't collect disability pay either. To receive those benefits, a soldier must be evaluated by a medical board, which must confirm that he is wounded and that his wounds stem from combat. The process takes several months, in contrast with a 5-13 discharge, which can be wrapped up in a few days.

Nice...

These practices naturally lead to drug abuse so soldiers can block out the horrors of war. That the "Substance Abuse Disorder" can help soldiers makes me proud of our Commander in Chief... yet, again...