This time of year always finds me reflecting on the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces. Veterans Day, Pearl Harbor Day, the anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, the anniversary of the Tet Offensive all take place at this time of year. Additionally, from now through New Year’s Eve we will see TV commercials from service women and men who are overseas wishing loved ones back home a merry and happy holiday season.
As a member of the Armed Forces and a person in long-term recovery, I have spent a career carrying the message of hope and recovery to my fellow brothers and sisters in arms. I was recently asked by some fellow members of the program how they could help members of the Armed Forces. What follows are a few suggestions of how to bring the message of hope and rebirth to a service member who may be suffering from alcoholism and addiction.
1. See about bringing a meeting into your local VA. Many veterans within the VA system are unable to attend meetings because of transportation challenges. If they can can’t come to us, how about going to them?
2. Join your local network of service-member organizations e.g., Beyond the Yellow Ribbon or Joining Community Forces. Let them know about your willingness to talk to a veteran who may have an alcohol or drug problem.
3. Contact your local Armory or Reserve Center and let them know you would like to act as a point of contact for a service-member who is looking for information about recovery from drug or alcohol problem.
4. Contact your local National Guard commander and let him/her know that you would be willing to speak to his/her soldiers about your recovery experiences. All service-members must receive an hour of education on drug and alcohol abuse each year. Your offer might just be the solution to the commander’s training problem.
5. Contact the local chaplain for your nearest service center. Let the chaplain know you would be willing to talk to a service-member or veteran who is dealing with substance abuse. Often times the Chaplains are the first ones to learn or know about a service-member who has a drinking or drug problem.
6. Get in touch with the local group who conducts the semi-annual Stand Down. The Stand Down is an event that provides services to veterans who have fallen upon hard times. A Stand Down can be an excellent place for a veteran to learn about A.A. or N.A.
Consider carrying the message to those who have served. You’ll find that “nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics” and “it is in giving that we receive”.
Yours in Service,
MAJ John D